The Royals have ended their season and while there will be no post-season, there were still plenty of thrills for Royals fans. The season was a roller-coaster ride, with a nine-game winning streak coupled with an eight-game losing streak. The Royals seemed doomed with 19 losses in the month of July, but got hot the very next month and won 20 games in August.
The memories from 2016 are not quite as bright as they were in 2015, but there were still some very memorable games. Here are the ten best games from the 2016 Royals season.
April 3 vs. NY Mets - Opening Night
The spotlight was on Kansas City for the first day of the season as they got a World Series re-match with the New York Mets. The Royals jumped on the Mets in the first with the same formula that won them the championship last October. Mike Moustakas hit a line drive to left field that clanked off the glove of Yoenis Cespedes, advancing to second on a passed ball. Eric Hosmer hit a ground ball through the left side to score Moustakas and give the Royals a 1-0 lead.
Kendrys Morales hit a sac fly to add a second run and Alex Gordon's RBI single in the sixth led to manager Terry Collins to pull Matt Harvey, something he should have done last October. An Omar Infante RBI single made it 4-0, a lead that seemed to be too big to overcome, but reliever Joakim Soria made things close giving up three runs in the eighth. Wade Davis shut the door for the save, however, to get the Royals season off to a good start.
April 10 vs. Minnesota - Gore’s walk-off
The Royals were riding high after one week of baseball, having split a two-game series against the defending National League champion Mets and going into Sunday with a chance to sweep the Twins. The Royals trailed 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth, but an Eric Hosmer triple off Twins closer Glen Perkins made it a one-run game, and Kendrys Morales would tie the game with a sacrifice fly.
Christian Colon led off the bottom of the tenth with a walk, and was replaced by Terrance Gore, who was a surprise addition to the opening day roster over the popular Whit Merrifield. An errant pickoff throw by pitcher Trevor May allowed Gore to advance all the way to third base, but it looked like he might be stranded there after a lineout by Paulo Orlando and a strikeout from Alcides Escobar. After a walk to Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain was up with a chance to win the game. However, all that was needed was a slightly wild pitch in the dirt that only got a few feet away from Twins catcher J.R. Murphy, just enough for Gore to dash home with the winning run. It would be the first of nine walk-off victories for the Royals in 2016.
May 3 vs. Washington - Moose’s pinch-hit
A rough road trip to Seattle and Anaheim left the Royals reeling as the Nationals came to town in early May. The Royals looked like they were going to continue their losing slide when they trailed 6-4 going into the ninth against closer Jonathan Papelbon. The controversial closer gave up singles to Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez to start the inning, to put runners on the corners. Terrance Gore again came in as a pinch runner and stole second to put the game-tying run in scoring position.
Mike Moustakas, nursing a fractured thumb that would land him on the disabled list a few days later, came on as a pinch-hitter. He laced a single through the left side of the infield to score two runs and tie the game. A few hitters later, Lorenzo Cain would line a shot over the head of centerfielder Michael Taylor to win the game.
May 15 vs. Atlanta - Kendrys’ walk-off homer
The Royals began to get their season back on track against the Braves, splitting the first two games of the series until the Sunday finale. Danny Duffy made his first start of the season and threw three impressive innings before yielding to five relievers who tossed five more shutout innings.
The game seemed in the bag until Wade Davis came in the game in the ninth and looked very un-cyborg-like. Davis coughed up two runs on three hits and a walk, and the game went into extra innings. Alcides Escobar led off the eleventh with a single, but the Royals threatened to strand him there after lefty reliever Eric O’Flaherty retired the next two hitters. That brought up Kendrys Morales, who had struggled mightily with a .591 OPS going into the game. Morales jump-started his season with a thrilling walk-off home run just over the 410 sign in centerfield.
May 28 vs. Chicago - The Royals break the White Sox bullpen
The Royals had quite a Memorial Day weekend at home against the White Sox with three late inning comeback wins that crushed the spirit of Chicago manager Robin Ventura. Perhaps the most amazing comeback was in the Saturday game, where the Royals trailed 7-1 heading into the ninth inning.
Ventura brought in David Robertson, despite the six-run lead, to get his closer some work. To make matters worse, the Royals were without Salvador Perez, who had left the game after a minor knee injury after a collision with Cheslor Cuthbert. With one out, Cuthbert singled. Brett Eibner doubled. Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar drew back-to-back walks and when that occurs, you know something special is happening.
Whit Merrifield hit a ball that Robertson nearly caught, but instead clanked off his glove for an infield single. An Eric Hosmer double made it 7-5, and knocked Robertson out of the game. Drew Butera doubled home another run. A wild pitch moved him to third, setting up two intentional walks to bring up rookie Brett Eibner. Eibner, in his second big league game ever, lined a single just past first baseman Jose Abreu to win the game and finish the implosion of the White Sox bullpen.
June 18 vs. Detroit - A 16-run laugher
By June the Royals were clicking on all cylinders, just a half game back out of first place. Kendrys Morales, who had gotten off to a dismal start, was in the middle of an insanely hot month in which he would eventually hit .402/.453/.655. He continued his torrid pace against Matt Boyd and the Tigers, going 4-for-5 with two doubles and five runs batted in. The Royals would score seven runs off Boyd, knocking him out of the game by the fourth, but the Tigers bullpen would not be able to stop the bleeding. Reliever Mark Lowe, who had a disastrous 2016 season, gave up five runs in the eighth to make the game a true laugher.
June 29 vs. St. Louis - The Royals keep battling back
The Royals had split their two games in Kansas City against the cross-state Cardinals, and found runs hard to come by in Busch Stadium. Edinson Volquez and Carlos Martinez put up goose eggs and the game was scoreless into the eighth. Alcides Escobar put the Royals on the board with a bases loaded sac fly. But Wade Davis uncharacteristically coughed up the lead in the ninth to make it 1-1.
The Royals surged ahead again in the tenth, when Cheslor Cuthbert led off with a walk, then advanced to third on an errant pick off attempt. Whit Merrifield hit a ground ball that would be misplayed by Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter, to allow Cuthbert to score the lead run. But again, the Royals would cough up the lead, this time by Joakim Soria. Finally, in the twelfth, Whit Merrifield and Alcides Escobar hit back-to-back doubles to give the Royals a 3-2 lead. Chien-Ming Wang would pitch a 1-2-3 inning to preserve the win, one of three the Royals had in four chances against St. Louis.
August 1 vs. Tampa Bay - Danny Duffy is brilliant
The Royals were already six games under .500 by the time August rolled around, but Danny Duffy was giving Royals fans a reason to tune in every five days. He had been pitching well, but his season culminated in this performance against the Rays, one of the best in franchise history. Duffy struck out two in the first, then struck out the side in the second. He struck out a pair in the third. And the fourth. And the fifth.
The Royals put a run on the board in the seventh with a Kendrys Morales home run, but that would be all Duffy would need. He retired the first 21 hitters of the ballgame, carrying a perfect game into the eighth. Desmond Jennings led off the inning with a double down the line to break up the no-hitter. But Duffy would end the night with the franchise record for strikeouts in a game with 16, and the second-highest Game Score in Royals history.
August 19 vs. Minnesota - Walk-off after rain-off
The Royals were making a charge to get back in the playoff race, and the Twins were just the team to face to start a hot streak. The Royals jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but with a storm on the way, they were hoping to get through five innings quickly to make it an official game. Edinson Volquez would not comply, coughing up the lead just as the rains came.
The two teams sat around for a three-hour rain delay, tied at 3-3. When play resumed, both teams looked as if the rains had washed their bats away. The Royals stranded runners in scoring position in the eighth, ninth, and tenth. Cheslor Cuthbert led off the eleventh with a single, moving to second on a walk to Lorenzo Cain. Eric Hosmer tried, unsuccessfully, to bunt them over. It proved to be a godsend, as Hosmer blasted a pitch off the right-field fence to score the winning run in the wee hours of the morning.
August 29 vs. New York Yankees - Royals pull to within two games
The Royals were red-hot in August, winning 20 games and jumping back in the Wild Card race. They faced the Yankees in Kauffman Stadium for a crucial series against a fellow contender. The pitching matchup did not look good, but Dillon Gee surprised with an excellent performance, allowing just one run over six innings.
Royals hitters, meanwhile, jumped on Yankees starter Michael Pineda for three runs in the first. Alcides Escobar piled it on with a three-run home run in the seventh, part of a five-run outburst for the Royals. The game seemed well in hand with the Royals up 8-1, but the Yankees did stage a comeback, scoring four runs to make it close. Kelvin Herrera was able to slam the door and put the Royals to within two games of a Wild Card spot.