The 2017 season didn’t end with one more post-season run for this core group, but the club still provided many memorable moments. Let’s look back at the best Royals moments from the 2017 season.
April 10 - Yordano Ventura’s mother throws out the first pitch
Tragedy struck this past off-season when Yordano Ventura lost his life in a car collision in the Dominican Republic in January. The Royals and their fans were in shock, and the loss of Ventura and his electric arm and winning smile would haunt the club all season. But that pain was only a fraction of what his mother, Marisol, must have endured. The Royals rallied to her support, and gave a touching tribute of Yordano before the home opener in April, culminating in Marisol throwing out the first pitch.
May 30 - Eric Skoglund’s surprising debut
Injuries and ineffectiveness left the Royals scrambling to fill the rotation by late May, calling up young lefty Eric Skoglund to start against the Tigers. The former Central Florida pitcher was a promising young arm, but certainly not a top prospect, so the expectations were muted. All he did was toss 6 1⁄3 innings of shutout baseball, allowing just two hits and outdueling Justin Verlander for his first big league win. He walked off the mound in the seventh to a standing ovation and tears from his father in the crowd.
July 11 - Moose in the Home Run Derby
Royals fans are still bitter Billy Butler was passed over for the Home Run Derby by Robinson Cano when Kansas City hosted the event in 2012, but perhaps having Mike Moustakas selected this year will soothe some sore feelings. Moose became just the third Royals hitter ever to be selected (joining Bo Jackson and Danny Tartabull). Moose got off to a terrific start in his first round matchup against Miguel Sano, but had some confusion about his time and ended up losing 11-10.
August 14 - Cam Gallagher wins the Sonic Slam Inning
The Sonic Slam Inning is a sixth-inning contest, in which one contestant can win the jackpot if the Royals hit a home run that inning, or the grand prize of $25,000 if the Royals manage to hit a grand slam. The catch is, of course, that the Royals rarely hit home runs, much less grand slams. Lorenzo Cain is the only Royals hitter in the last decade to hit a grand slam in the Sonic Slam Inning.
Until August 14 of this year. Rookie Cam Gallagher was in his first week in the big leagues when he batted with the bases loaded in Oakland. The rest is history, particularly for Tim Brown of Shawnee, Kansas, who won 25 big ones.
August 23 - Hosmer hits his first career walk-off home run
The Royals were still in the hunt for a Wild Card when they hosted the Rockies in August. The Rockies took a 4-3 lead into the ninth and brought in old friend Greg Holland to shut the door. Holland had been outstanding all season for the Rockies, but had blown two saves in the previous week and was struggling a bit in August. He walked Alex Gordon to begin the inning, but got the next two outs. Melky Cabrera reached on a single to bring up Eric Hosmer, who was enjoying a career year. Despite all his clutch hitting, Hosmer had never hit a walk-off home run in his career, but that changed on August 23 when he put one in the seats.
September 20 - Mike Moustakas sets the franchise home run record
The portly Steve Balboni hit 36 home runs in 1985, the most in franchise history, and somehow no Royals hitter has ever topped that mark since. Mike Moustakas enjoyed a career-best year in the power department in 2017, and helped with the best league-wide home run environment in baseball history, Moose made the best run at Balboni’s record. He tied the record on September 1, giving him a full month to write his name in the record books. But a knee injury inhibited him, and possibly the pressure of breaking the record as well.
But on September 20 in Toronto, the record fell. The Royals were already in a laugher, up 12-0 on the Blue Jays. Carlos Ramirez hung a breaking pitch, and Moose hit #37 to set the record.
October 1 - Fans say goodbye
Royals fans knew this day was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier. With four of the core players eligible for free agency at the end of the year - Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, Eric Hosmer, and Mike Moustakas - the season finale felt more like Senior Night at a college basketball game.
Ned Yost pulled all four players off the field in the middle of the fifth inning to thunderous applause from crying Royals fans. Perhaps some players will be back, or perhaps all we’ll have left is memories that will last a lifetime, but either way, Royals fans at least got to send their heroes off with a fitting tribute.
What was the best moment of the 2017 season for the Royals?
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Eric Hosmer HR for Team USA
Yordano’s mother with the first pitch
Eric Skoglund’s debut
Moose in the Home Run Derby
Cam Gallagher wins the Sonic Slam Inning
Hosmer’s walk-off vs. Colorado
Moose sets the club HR record