Continuing on with the (mostly) complete multimedia story of your 2015 World Champion Kansas City Royals, here's the index for all parts:
- Prologue: Pre-2014
- Part 1: 2014 Regular Season
- Part 2: 2014 Playoffs: AL Rounds
- Part 3: 2014 World Series
- Part 4: 2015 Regular Season I
- Part 5: 2015 Regular Season II
- Part 6: 2015 Regular Season III
- Part 7: 2015 ALDS
- Part 8: 2015 ALCS
- Part 9: 2015 World Series
The Wild Card Game
(Ed Note: As we shift to the playoffs, this gets more video intensive)
I don't know what I can say about the Wild Card game that hasn't already been said. I certainly can't do it justice. Those who have seen it will remember it for the rest of their life. Those who haven't should go watch it. This is where the real story of the 2015 Royals started and could have easily died. Many thought that if they Royals did not win, this really was not the playoffs. Many feared how short our playoff experience would be:
That Shields will give up a four-spot in the top of the first and the Royals’ playoff hopes will all but expire about 15 minutes after they started. This isn’t a criticism of Shields at all; this is just an acknowledgment of the reality of being a Royals fan.
If any game was worth a 29 year wait, this was it.
The quick synopsis: Brandon Moss homer off James Shields gives A's 2-0 lead in 1st. Royals get one back in bottom 1. Failed double steal and Geovanny Soto injured to end the 1st- enter Derek Norris who didn't start because he can't throw out runners. Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer give Royals 3-2 lead in 3rd. Shields falters in 6th, Ned goes to Yordano Ventura who gives up 3 run bomb to Moss. Kelvin Herrera lets in 2 more and the Royals are down 7-3. Two impotent innings later, the Royals have 6 outs to go in their playoff lives against long time nemesis Jon Lester. Magical 8th inning: single, steal, single, steal, walk, single, steal, wild pitch and now the Royals are only down 7-6. Greg Holland escapes bases loaded 9th. Josh Willingham single, Alcides Escobar sacrifice, Jarrod Dyson rev up steal, Nori Aoki sac fly: tie game and free baseball! Brandon Finnegan ruthless for 2 but gets tired in 3rd. Alberto Callaspo gets revenge in 12th, giving A's 8-7 lead. Hosmer triple of the top of fence, Christian Colon infield RBI single, 7th Royals steal of the game, 0 for 5 Salvador Perez line drive past a diving Josh Donaldson. Ballgame!
For much better accounts of the game, read the following
- Royals Review Game Thread, Overflow 1, Overflow 2, Overflow 3, Overflow 4, and Recap
- Rany's feature story over at Grantland: KC Masterpiece
- Joe Posnanski over at NBC Sports: The Beauty of Belief
- Andy McCullough's Kansas City Star one year later retrospective: The Night Kansas City Baseball Came Back to Life
- Baseball-Reference Box Score
Without hyperbole, it's safe to say this was one of the greatest games in Kansas City baseball history and set the stage for everything that would come after it.
ALDS: Anaheim Angels
This series gets lost in the shuffle a little. The A's had an amazing first half but could never shake the Angels. While Oakland swooned after the trade deadline,
Disney Presents the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim posted 34 wins in August and September, tied for 2nd with the Royals and 2 behind the Orioles. They were led by, of course, Mike Trout who would win the 2014 AL MVP after finishing 2nd the previous 2 seasons. Unfortunately for them, they lost ace Garrett Richards to a freak injury in August. Here is Max's full preview of the series. This is baseball-reference's page for the series complete with box scores and stats.
ALDS Game 1
(Ed note: I like the Pulse of the Playoffs videos better as they use the actual game calls but they also short a lot of the games so I'll also link to the MLB.com highlight videos if they are more complete.)
Pulse (start at 1:47 for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/video/v36730535
This game featured some of the best Royals OF defense of the playoffs. In the 1st, Cain made an amazing catch and Jason Vargas shows us his o-face. Escobar drives in a run in the top half of the 3rd but Chris Iannetta answers with a home run in the bottom half. Two Royals sac flies score a run in the 5th, the Angels answer with a David Freese home run. In another highlight reel catch, in the 6th, Aoki makes a run saving catch underneath a leaping Lorenzo Cain. And in the 7th, Aoki took a "creative route" to fall down and catch one on the warning track. The Royals bullpen flirted with disaster but kept the Angels scoreless while the Royals had 15 straight retired. Kansas City would have extra innings once again. Mike Moustakas homered to lead off the 11th and give the Royals a 3-2 lead. Greg Holland, who didn't get to the ballpark until the 6th (he had a good excuse as his first son was being born in North Carolina), saved the game.
ALDS Game 2
Pulse (start at 3:36 for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/video/v36743155/
The Royals picked up an unearned run in the 2nd against Matt Shoemaker while Yordano gave up a 2 out RBI single to Albert Pujols in the 6th. Three notable moments: Yordano's last pitch of the night was 100, Salvy took a blow to the back of the head by Josh Hamilton, and Dyson makes the great throw to nail Calhoun tagging up for 3rd in the 8th. The bullpens took over and it was still 1-1 through 10. In the 11th, for the second night in a row, an extra inning homer gives the Royals the lead. This one by Hosmer and this one with Cain aboard. The Royals would add another insurance run, Holland would save another game, and the Royals would head back to Kansas City up 2-0.
ALDS Game 3
Pulse (start at 2:54 for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/video/v36761285/
I have a soft spot for this game as my wife and I flew up to Kansas City to watch it with friends. The K looked beautiful tonight, so full of blue and the ground was shaking. On the fourth pitch of the game, Mike Trout homers into the fountains off of James Shields for the Angels first lead of the series. But it would be their only one as in the bottom of the 1st, the Royals load the bases and Gordon clears them, doubling off the wall. Mike Scioscia would pull C.J. Wilson right there but it would not matter. In the third, Eric Hosmer would add a 2-run homer in the 3rd and Billy Butler would steal a base. I'm going to just pause here and let you catch up.
So, yeah, if Billy Butler is stealing bases, it's not your night or your series. Pujols would homer, Moose would answer. In the 5th, Cain would make a spectacular diving catch to save a run. And then he would do it again. James Shields would get through 6 and hand the ball to HDH. Herrera would throw 101 and allay injury fears from earlier in the series. Davis would allow a run just to see what it felt like. Holland would finished his third of the series, striking out Trout to send the Royals to Baltimore. Dyson would backflip to celebrate, rain would fall, players would run around the field high fiving fans, and the Royals led by Hosmer would party with fans at McFaddens in the P&L.
ALCS: Baltimore Orioles
The Royals had swept their series but Baltimore also swept Detroit (thanks!). The O's would crush Detroit's dreams and bullpen in the first two games and then beat them 2-1 in game 3. The pitching matchup looked close with the teams 3/4 in ERA, 10/11 in Ks, 3/5 in BB/9, and tied for 1st in saves. Offensively, it's another story with Baltimore 1st in the league in HRs and last in SBs. The Royals were last in the league in HR, K, and BB but 1st in SB and 2nd in BA. Chris Davis was suspended for
the first five games of the series. Here are links to RR's series preview and baseball-reference's page for the series.
ALCS Game 1
In the 3rd, Escobar gets the scoring started with a solo home run and Gordon gets a bases clearing double for the 2nd straight game and a 4-0 lead. A Billy Butler sacrifice fly would score Cain in the 5th to give the Royals a 5-1 lead. The Orioles would answer in the bottom of the 5th, clustering some hits to cut the lead to 1. In the 6th, Perez had Jonathan Schoop picked off of 2nd base but the throw to third bounced off of the runner and he would come around on an infield single. The Royals would threaten with bases loaded and nobody out in the top of the 9th but a play at the plate and Butler double play grounder would let Baltimore escape. For the fourth time in five games, the Royals would need extra innings. A dispirited Royals bench would be picked up by more Kansas City extra inning power. This time an Alex Gordon solo homer would give the Royals the lead in the 10th. A Mike Moustakas 2-run shot would give them a 3 run lead. Holland worked a shaky 10th and the Royals won 8-6.
ALCS Game 2
Pulse (first half of video for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/kc/video/v36797129
Aoki, Cain, and Hosmer combined for 2 runs in the 1st. Cain scored another in the 3rd. But Adam Jones made a great catch in the top half of the inning to save more runs and tied the game at 3 in the bottom half with a 2-run homer off of Ventura. Mike Moustakas hit his 4th postseason HR in the 4th but Baltimore tied it in the 5th. Cain made another sparkling play in the top of the 6th but Ventura was taken out one batter later, an apparent injury. Cain would make another running catch to get Herrera out of a bases loaded jam in the 7th. The Royals didn't need extra innings but waited until the 9th to secure the win. Escobar doubled in Gore and Cain would add insurance with his 4th hit on the day. Holland notched yet another postseason save and the Royals were halfway to the World Series.
ALCS Game 3
Pulse (start at 2:13 for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v36810733
The image that will linger longer than any other from this series happened in this game: Mike Moustakas going over the railing for the out. Also, the game would be delayed a day for rain so there were actually two days between Games 2 and 3. Baltimore took their first lead of the series in the 2nd inning against Jeremy Guthrie, who was in his first playoff appearance. The Royals would tie it in the 3rd. In the 6th, Adam Jones would foul a ball towards the dugout suites up the left field line. Moose leaned over the railing, snagged the ball, and fell into the suites but held onto the ball for the out. Pinch runner Jarrod Dyson scored on a Butler sacrifice fly in the 6th. The bullpen quartet of Jason Frasor, Herrera, Davis, and Holland went 12 up, 12 down and the Royals were up 3-0 in the best of 7.
ALCS Game 4
Pulse (first half of video for Royals): http://m.mlb.com/video/topic/6479266/v36817825
In the 1st inning of game 4, an Escobar infield hit, Aoki HBP, and Cain sacrifice put runners at 2nd and 3rd. Hosmer hit an infield grounder that was thrown home but Escobar slid through the tag, knocking the ball loose and both he and Aoki scored. That would be all the Royals needed. Ryan Flaherty hit a solo home run in the 5th but taht was all Jason Vargas would give up in 5 1/3rd. HDH finished the game off with Herrera going 1.2, Davis the 8th, and Holland the 9th. HDH pitched in all 4 games of the LCS and Holland saved each. New father Lorenzo Cain won the MVP with a triple slash of .533/.588/.667 and tremendous defense. The Royals 8th straight win to start the postseason would lead them to their first World Series since 1985.