Read an Excerpt
100 Things Royals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
By Matt Fulks
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2016 Matt Fulks
All rights reserved.
Game 5 of the 2015 World Series
The comeback kids did it again for a second consecutive night. Only this time it was for the world championship, as the Kansas City Royals overcame a two-run deficit at Citi Field in the ninth inning and went on to beat the New York Mets 7–2 in 12 innings in Game 5, becoming the 2015 World Series champs.
It was the first world championship for the Royals since 1985. Unlike 1985's 11–0 win in Game 7, the decisive game in 2015 had a little more nail biting before the Royals took the crown.
One night after getting shell-shocked by another Royals late comeback, the Mets needed a big outing from ace Matt Harvey to extend the series. Harvey did not disappoint, delivering one of the top performances of the postseason, as he struck out nine through eight shutout innings.
Heading into the ninth, when Harvey learned that manager Terry Collins was going to bring in New York's closer, Jeurys Familia, to finish the game, Harvey pleaded with Collins to leave him in. "[Harvey] came over and said, 'I want this game. I want it bad. You've got to leave me in,'" Collins said after the game. "He said, 'I want this game in the worst way.' So obviously, I let my heart get in the way of my gut."
"It didn't work," Collins added. "It's my fault."
No one could blame Collins for sticking with Harvey. Although Harvey threw his 100th pitch in the eighth inning, the Royals weren't getting good swings. Harvey, who started Game 1 but didn't factor into the decision, allowed only four hits — all singles — and walked one batter through eight innings in Game 5. Even with the Mets down in the series, if Harvey delivered a complete-game win, especially a shutout, New York would have had incredible momentum heading back to Kansas City.
But the ninth was a different story, especially against this resilient, never-say-die bunch of Royals, who'd already staged late comebacks down by at least two runs in six out of 15 games during the 2015 postseason. With the Royals trailing 2–0 in this one, Lorenzo Cain worked a full-count walk, and then Harvey gave up an opposite-field double to Eric Hosmer, scoring Cain. That ended Harvey's night, as Collins went to Familia, who had blown a save opportunity about 24 hours earlier.
Familia got Mike Moustakas to ground out to first baseman Lucas Duda for the first out, but it advanced Hosmer to third base. Salvador Perez, who popped out for the final out of the World Series in Game 7 in 2014, rolled a soft grounder toward short. Third baseman David Wright fielded the ball, checked Hosmer, and threw to first for the second out. However, as soon as Wright threw it, Hosmer broke for home. He slid headfirst across home plate for the tying run as Duda's throw sailed past catcher Travis d'Arnaud. With Hosmer's gutsy base running, Familia had recorded his third blown save in a World Series, which hadn't happened since 1969.
With the blown save, Game 5 was headed to extra innings. "We never quit. We never put our heads down," said Perez, who was selected as the World Series MVP. "We always compete to the last out."
Perez helped the Royals get to that last out by leading off the 12th with a single against Addison Reed. Jarrod Dyson came in as a pinch-runner and stole second as the clock passed midnight in New York. After Alex Gordon's ground-out moved Dyson to third, manager Ned Yost called on Christian Colon to pinch hit for pitcher Luke Hochevar. Colon, who scored the winning run in the 2014 wild-card game against Oakland, had not played in the 2015 postseason. But the long break didn't affect him as he singled to left and gave the Royals their first lead of the game at 3–2.
The Royals, though, kept the line going. Paulo Orlando reached on an error by Daniel Murphy, whose error in Game 4 started Kansas City's rally. Alcides Escobar doubled home Colon, making it 4–2. After Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out, Cain greeted relief pitcher Bartolo Colon with a bases-clearing double, giving Kansas City five runs in the inning, the most by a team in extra innings in World Series history.
Not taking any chances with a 7–2 lead, Yost brought in Wade Davis to close the game. Davis was the fourth Royals pitcher after Edinson Volquez, Kelvin Herrera, and Hochevar, who got the win, throwing five scoreless innings. After throwing two innings for the save the previous night in Game 4, Davis wasted little time in striking out Duda and d'Arnaud, putting the Royals one out from a championship.
Michael Conforto singled, but then Davis finished striking out the side by catching Wilmer Flores looking. Davis tossed his glove in the air and awaited backup catcher Drew Butera, commencing the celebration on the field. Fittingly, the clincher was the Royals' seventh comeback of the 2015 postseason after trailing by at least two runs. (They trailed by one run in Game 2 before eventually winning. That means that the Royals came from behind in eight of their 11 postseason wins in 2015.) "I couldn't have written a better script," Yost said.
The script of Game 5 began with the Mets jumping on Kansas City starter Volquez in the first inning via a leadoff home run by Curtis Granderson. It was the second time Volquez gave up a homer to Granderson, who hit one in the fifth inning of Game 1.
Granderson scored New York's second run of the game in an inning that could've been disastrous for the Royals. Volquez walked Granderson leading off the sixth inning before giving up a base hit to Wright. Murphy then reached on an error on a grounder to first that bounced off Hosmer's glove and loaded the bases with no outs. After Yoenis Cespedes popped out to Escobar for the first out, Duda lifted a deep sacrifice fly that scored Granderson and gave the Mets a 2–0 lead. Volquez avoided any more trouble by inducing a ground-out by d'Arnaud, ending the inning.
Volquez, who rejoined the team a day earlier following the death of his father Daniel in the Dominican Republic before Game 1, gave up two runs and two hits in six innings. He also walked five and struck out five. As solid as he was on the mound, Volquez went into the Royals history book for something he did at the plate. Volquez led off the top of the third with a single to right against Harvey. That's the first time a Royals pitcher has recorded a hit in a World Series game.
More importantly, though, for the first time in 30 years, the Royals were World Series champions. "To be able to win this is very, very special, with this group of guys," Yost said. "With their character, with their heart, with their passion, with the energy that they bring every single day, I mean, they leave everything on the field."
2015 World Series Roster
Raul Mondesi Jr.
Alex RiosCHAPTER 2
Game 7 of the 1985 World Series
Improbable teams have won the World Series, but none has come back from such improbable odds as the 1985 Royals.
After coming back from a 3-games-to-1 deficit against the St. Louis Cardinals — and following the same scenario against the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series — the Royals seemed to hit Game 7 with an unbeatable attitude. "That's usually what happens when you tie [the series] up," said Royals Hall of Fame second baseman Frank White. "You have to hope that your ace is better than their ace for Game 7."
Indeed, as he'd been in most of his outings that year, Royals ace Bret Saberhagen was better than the other team's ace. In this case it was John Tudor. Saberhagen held the Cardinals to five hits and no runs. The Royals, on the other hand, turned in their most lopsided win of 1985 as they won 11–0.
In many ways right fielder Darryl Motley, who batted .364 in the 1985 World Series, symbolized the beginning and the end of the Royals' victory in Game 7. In the second inning after belting a foul ball down the left-field line and missing a two-run home run by a few feet, Motley got nearly the same pitch from Tudor. Motley didn't miss the second time. That dinger ignited the Royals' scoring binge. "I was trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark," Motley said. "My agent told me before the game that if I did something special, I'd remember it the rest of my life. That home run was a special moment for me."
Motley was expecting the pitch. After the Cardinals showed the Royals mainly off-speed pitches throughout the series, leadoff hitter Willie Wilson quickly picked up on a pattern by Tudor. Realizing that Tudor threw back-to-back fastballs and then a change-up, Wilson gave Motley a heads up. "Tudor did that to every batter before Motley and, sure enough, he did it to Mot," Wilson said, laughing. "But Mot still doesn't give me credit for him hitting the home run."
Then there was the final out of the game and the series. As Wilson jogged toward his spot in center field for the ninth inning, he made a prediction to Motley. With the final outcome a foregone conclusion, Wilson proudly told Motley that he, Wilson, would be catching the final out, sealing the Royals' victory. Motley, though, told him this would be the one time he beat the fleet-footed Wilson to the ball.
With two outs St. Louis' Andy Van Slyke drove a ball toward right-center field. As Motley foretold Wilson, he charged over, camped under the ball, and clasped it tightly in his glove as the celebration began. "I got there first, but I could hear Willie coming," Motley said, laughing. "He was too late. I caught it and I still have the ball."
Between the two-run homer and final out, there were plenty of fireworks, and that's not even including the Royals' scoring barrage. After Tudor walked in a run in the third inning, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog went to his bullpen. On the way to the clubhouse, Tudor, who hadn't been taken out of game that early all season, punched an electrical fan in the dugout. He cut his hand on the blade and had to go to a hospital for stitches.
Already leading 5–0 the Royals broke the game open in the bottom of the fifth with six runs. During the inning Joaquin Andujar, who won 21 games that season, was called on as the Cardinals' fifth pitcher of the game. He got into an argument with home-plate umpire Don Denkinger over balls and strikes.
Herzog, still fuming from Denkinger's controversial call in Game 6, went out to defend his pitcher. In the heat of the moment, Herzog reminded Denkinger of Game 6. "I told him, 'We wouldn't even be here tonight if you hadn't blown that call last night,'" Herzog said. Denkinger, as Herzog walked away, fired a response: "You wouldn't be here either if your team was hitting." Denkinger had a point. Kansas City's pitching staff held St. Louis to 13 runs and a .185 batting average during the seven-game series. But Herzog heard enough and went back for more. Denkinger tossed Herzog a few moments later.
After Andujar's next pitch to Jim Sundberg — which was called a ball — the pitcher showed his disgust. Denkinger pointed him toward the clubhouse, kicking him out of the game. After going after Denkinger with a level of vehemence not far below George Brett in the Pine Tar Game, Andujar eventually left the game but not before taking a bat to a toilet and a sink. By the time the inning ended, the Royals were up 11–0.
Although the Cardinals were arguing, they had very little fight left. As the ninth inning began, broadcaster Denny Matthews began a countdown with each out, culminating with the most famous call in Royals history, that final Van Slyke at-bat.
High fly ball ...
Motley going back ...
To the track ...
No outs to go!
The Royals have won the 1985 World Series!
Saberhagen, who won 20 games that season, cruised to a complete-game, five-hit shutout. He received World Series MVP honors after winning two games and sporting a staggering 0.50 ERA. "Looking back on my career, the Cy Young awards and the World Series MVP are nice, but to win the World Series is the thing I'll always cherish," Saberhagen said. "Every guy on the team has to go out and play good baseball in order to win the World Series. We had that in '85."
Willie WilsonCHAPTER 3
Putting the Wild in Wild-Card
Well, that was fast. Or so it initially seemed. Twenty-nine years of waiting, of frustration, of thinking every spring "maybe this is our year," to the mid-summer realization "there's always next year." After 29 years the Royals were finally here, in the postseason, in 2014. And in less than 29 minutes — or however long it took the Oakland A's to put together a five-run sixth inning — it was over. This time of the year teams don't come back from 7–3 deficits after seven innings, especially a team like Kansas City that had spent so much energy during the roller-coaster 2014 season just to reach the postseason.
But in front of a rocking, standing-room only crowd of 40,502 at Kauffman Stadium, the young and inexperienced Royals were brought back to life in the wildest of wild-card games. And all it took were two pinch-hitters, seven stolen bases, seven pitchers, a batter who had been 0-for-5, and 12 innings. "This will go down as the craziest game I've ever played," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "This team showed a lot of character. No one believed in us before the game. No one believed in us before the season."
Pitcher Jon Lester, whom Oakland acquired at the trade deadline for an anticipated postseason run, held a comfortable 7–3 lead. That was bad news for the Royals, considering Lester has had Kansas City's number throughout his career regardless of the name on his uniform. In fact, Lester, who was 4–0 against the Royals in 2014, shut out Kansas City in Boston on July 20 and then two starts later on August 2 — his first appearance for the A's — he beat the Royals again.
But things would change after the seventh inning of the wild-card game.
Down to six outs and nothing to lose against Lester, the Royals tightened the screws a little. Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the eighth with a base hit and then promptly stole a base, one of seven on the night for the Royals. After Nori Aoki advanced Escobar with a ground-out to second, Lorenzo Cain singled to center. That made it 7–4 Oakland. With Hosmer at the plate, Cain stole second. Hosmer walked, which ended Lester's night. Relief pitcher Luke Gregerson gave up a single to Billy Butler, scoring Cain and moving Hosmer to third. 7–5 Oakland. Terrance Gore, running for Butler, stole second. Perhaps focusing too much on Kansas City's speed on the base path, Gregerson threw a wild pitch to Alex Gordon that scored Hosmer on a dive at home. 7–6 Oakland. Gordon ended up walking and then stole second. (In case you're not keeping track, that's four stolen bases for the Royals in the inning.) The inning came to a screeching halt, though, as Gregerson struck out both Salvador Perez and Omar Infante. It was the second time in the game that the hitless Perez struck out.
He'd get another chance.
The Royals tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, courtesy of pinch-hitter Josh Willingham, who was a late-season acquisition brought in to give Kansas City some veteran power at the plate. Hitting for Mike Moustakas against Oakland reliever Sean Doolittle, Willingham blooped a base hit. Jarrod Dyson, running for Willingham, was sacrificed to second and then stole third. He tied the game on a sacrifice fly by Aoki.
After Brandon Finnegan, who barely three months earlier was pitching for Texas Christian University in the College World Series, relieved Greg Holland and shut down the A's, the Royals seemed to be on their way to the American League Division Series. Hosmer led off the Kansas City 10th with an infield base hit and advanced to second on a sacrifice by pinch-hitter Christian Colon. Two batters later with Hosmer at third and two outs, Perez had a chance to redeem his eighth-inning strikeout. But the Royals All-Star catcher grounded out to second, making him hitless in five at-bats.
Excerpted from 100 Things Royals Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Matt Fulks. Copyright © 2016 Matt Fulks. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.