Yesterday, Alex Gordon began his rehab assignment in Omaha. He has been recovering from a groin injury suffered in early July, and his presence has been missed. Gordon was the Royals' first-round draft pick in 2005, and made his much-hyped debut in 2007. In 2011, he made the step from mediocre third baseman to best left fielder in baseball.
In order to get excited about Gordon's return, let's take a look at the top ten hits of Gordon's career.
10. April 21, 2010: go-ahead home run in the top of the tenth against Toronto
The game was tied 3-3 in the top of the tenth inning with nobody on and two outs when Gordon stepped to the plate, the uninspiring Yuniesky Betancourt hitting behind him. Gordon smashed a deep home run to center field against future Royal Scott Downs. Joakim Soria would go on to save the game, and the Royals won 4-3.
9. April 5, 2013: go-ahead triple in the top of the sixth against Philadelphia
In the beginning of an optimistic 2013 season, the Royals faced the Phillies in an early interleague series. Bruce Chen guided the Royals to a quick 4-0 hole. With the score at 4-2, Gordon came to the plate following a Billy Butler intentional walk, which loaded the bases with two outs. Gordon hit a clutch triple, which meant, yes, Butler scored from first base. The 5-4 game became a 13-4 blowout, but Gordon's hit was the catalyst.
8. August 31, 2014: game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth against Cleveland
Coming into this night, the Royals were tied with the Tigers for the American League Central lead. Every win was precious. Gordon led off the ninth inning, his team down 2-1. With one swing of the bat, Gordon hit a rocket to right-center field to tie the game. Unfortunately, the bullpen malfunctioned. Greg Holland blew the save in the top of the tenth inning, and with Dyson representing the tying run at second base in the bottom of the frame, Omar Infante hit a weak popup to end the game as a 4-3 loss.
7. August 1, 2007: go-ahead home run in the top of the tenth against Minnesota
Life was different in 2007. As the calendar turned to August, the Royals were in the middle of another lost season. Gordon was a fresh rookie with only a few months' Major League experience. The Twins still played in the Metrodome. MLB Video online did not exist in its current form.
None of this bothered Gordon. Ross Gload struck out to lead off the top of the tenth inning. Emil Brown, who had pinch-ran for Butler earlier in the game, then singled. After a Mark Teahen strikeout, Gordon stepped to the plate with two outs. Twins' reliever Juan Rincon tossed a 1-1 pitch to Gordon, who hammered it to right-center field for a go-ahead bomb. Soria closed out the game in the bottom half of the inning.
6. July 23, 2011: game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth against Tampa Bay
Mitch Maier led off the bottom of the ninth with a strikeout. After a rare Chris Getz walk, Escobar traded places with him on a fielder's choice. Backed against a wall with two outs and an 0-1 count, Gordon ripped a double into the right-center gap that scored Escobar from first, handing ex-Royal Kyle Farnsworth a blown save. Butler, immediately lifted for pinch-runner Mike Aviles after a leadoff single, quickly scored from an Eric Hosmer double in the bottom of the tenth.
5. July 8, 2008: game-tying double in the bottom of the 11th against Chicago
In a back-and-forth game against the White Sox, the Royals were able to come back multiple times. With the game tied 5-5, the game cruised to extra innings. Though the tenth inning was problematic, the 11th was particularly exciting. In the top half, AJ Pierzynski hit a ball to deep left-center field, allowing Joe Creed to score easily. Unfortunately, Esteban German unkorked a wild through that allowed Alexei Ramirez to score as well. 7-5, White Sox.
But, in the bottom of the 11th, Gordon came to the plate. Mike Aviles had previously knocked in German with a single. Gordon, one strike away from a lost ball game, shot a double to right field, scoring Aviles and evening the score at 7 all. Gordon again exhibited clutch skills, walking in the bottom of the 13th inning to load the bases after Robinson Tejeda had given up the go-ahead run to Chicago earlier in the frame. Of course, this was 2008, and Mark Grudzielanek hit into a routine ground ball double play to end the game down 8-7.
4. August 26, 2014: walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth against Minnesota
Five days from the 26th of August would be number eight on this list, Gordon's second late-game piece of heroics of the week. Unlike that game where other Royals dropped the ball for a loss, nobody was able to dull the brilliance of Gordon on this night in his first late-August display of clutch power. Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the ninth with a single. On an 0-1 count, Gordon pulled a ball on the inner half, sending it to the Pepsi Porch for a two-run walkoff homer.
3. July 30, 2010: walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth against Baltimore
Down 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, Rick Ankiel and Willie Bloomquist at the corners, and a 1-0 count, Gordon came through. Orioles pitcher Alfredo Simon tossed a mistake pitch up in the zone. Gordon did not miss it. He sent it into the home bullpen, ending the game with Kansas City leading 7-5.
2. October 10, 2014, ALCS: go-ahead home run in the top of the tenth against Baltimore
Hosmer, Moustakas, and Perez all had clutch extra-innings hits earlier in the playoff run. But, in a crazily high-scoring game in the ALCS, Gordon also got in on that action. In the top of the tenth, Gordon punished Buck Showalter's somewhat bizarre decision to leave right-handed, sidearm pitcher Darren O'Day to face the dangerous lefty Gordon. Gordon would smash a go-ahead laser into the right field bleachers. Kansas City would not relinquish that lead, winning the game 8-6.
1. October 29, 2014, World Series: The Hit
Alex Gordon did not knock anybody in. Alex Gordon did not score. The Royals lost Game Seven of the World Series with the tying run 90 feet away from the only place that mattered in the universe at that moment.
But this is the moment that kids dream about. Game Seven. Down by one run. Two outs. Bottom of the ninth. Against a pitcher larger than life, in a moment larger than life. For a moment, it brought back the magic, even against the wizard who calmed it. Gordon and third base coach Mike Jirschele will answer questions about this hit for the rest of their lives. What if? If Gordon had scored, it would have been one of the greatest hits in baseball history. As it is, it is only one of the most memorable plays in World Series history--a fitting top moment for such as brilliant and exciting a player as Gordon.