The date was Monday, October 12, 2015. The time was 3 pm Central Time. The preparation for the Kansas City Chiefs (and Jamaal Charles’ knee) funeral, who died on Sunday, the Royals were nearing the same fate. Sure death was upon them. On the heels of arguably the worst sports weekend in recent memory – the Royals lost Game 3 of the ALDS at Houston and the Chiefs blew an 11-point lead in the final 5 minutes to lose to the hapless Bears (and Charles right ACL exploded), the Royals, after taking an early 2-0 lead off a Salvador Perez oppo-DONG to right-center in the second inning, the Astros clawed their way back behind two solo HR and a RBI double from Carlos Correa. Then after Kelvin Herrera issued a leadoff walk. Correa, the 21-year-old old phenom, mashed a 2-run HR off Ryan Madson as part of a 4-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI day. That dirt bag Colby Rasmus made it back-to-back and when it was all said and done the Royals trailed 6-2 after seven innings.
Depression was sinking in. It was all over. The Royals, the only American League team to make the playoffs in both 2014 and 2015 – the defending American League Champs, the 2015 AL Central Champs and the No. 1 seed with homefield advantage throughout the playoffs – were going to be the first team eliminated from the 2015 MLB Postseason. This postseason was not as fun as last postseason. The 2015 Astros = the 2014 Royals.
Oh, and add in the losses of the three local college football teams at home, all to ranked teams, and the nightmarish weekend extended into Columbus Day.
With six outs remaining, the Royals chances of winning the ALDS sat at just 3.2%.
So, you’re saying there’s a chance?
The Texas Governor certainly didn’t think so…
The Royals, the only team to rally from a 4-run 8th inning deficit in the postseason in last year’ stunning comeback off Jon Lester and the A’s in the Wild Card Game, led off the inning with three straight singles. No way it can happen, again, can it?
The Royals odds of winning the game were up to 29.3%.
Then, this happened:
The Royals scored four runs on five hits to tie the game before and out was even recorded. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?
Drew Butera, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Perez after Terrance Gore ran for Salvy in the seventh and was “caught stealing” for the first time in his career after video review overturned a previous safe call after already stealing second – in his first career postseason AB, drew an impressive 10-pitch walk, loading the bases, setting the stage for Gordon’s go-ahead, RBI groundout.
Suddenly, after a 40-minute, 53-pitch inning that saw 11 Royals come to the plate and Alex Rios, who led off the inning with a single, reach base twice, the Royals chances to win had inflated to 76.4%.
Wade Davis, the Cyborg, activated. He needed just seven pitches to retire the side in the eighth, including a strikeout.
ASStros fans, who once acted like this…
…now had to feel helpless, like sad Jose Altuve:
The Astros odds of winning, once at more than 98%, was down to 15.5%. Then, Eric Hosmer mashed the longest HR of the postseason, a 442-footer, and the Royals, once left for dead, were going live to see another day. The comeback was complete. Hosmer had just one hit in 15 ALDS AB (.067) has supplanted himself as the new, modern-day Mr. October, at least for the Royals. Climbing the Royals record books, Hosmer now has 16 RBI in 19 postseason games. Only George Brett has more (23). He did it in 43 games. Hosmer’s five multi-RBI postseason games is a franchise record. Dude’s just 25. So far in this series, he has just three hits, but they’ve produced four runs.
Davis closed out his first career 6-out save and the Royals are bringing the series back to Kansas City after ANOTHER unbelievable, indescribable comeback, and they have momentum with them.
Of course, the Royals, who are now 9-1 in their last 10 elimination games, could lose Game 5 tomorrow night, and none of this will matter. But, after an epic comeback like this, do you really expect them to lose? I don’t. Of the 33 times a team has been down by four runs in the eighth inning in the postseason, only twice has a team came back to win. Both times, it was your very own Kansas City Royals. Last time, just last year, the Royals rattled off seven more wins before losing, setting a MLB postseason record with eight straight wins to open the playoffs. How fun would it be if the Royals were rip off another impressive streak, feeding off this comeback.
It’ll start with the man that was brought here to pitch games like this: Johnny Cueto. He allowed four runs on seven hits in six innings in Game 2, where the Royals rallied from 4-1 down to win 5-4, scoring two in the sixth and one in the seventh. It was the only other game in this series the Royals strung together a bunch of hits. Yes, he gave up four runs, but he did so with a bit of bad luck – a broken bat bloop single, a bunt single to load the bases after a walk and then a jam-shot, weakly-hit two RBI single in the 2-run second inning, that put the Royals down 3-0 after two innings for the second straight game. Cueto’s time in Kansas City has been shaky, at best. But, he still has a chance to re-write his Royals legacy with a strong postseason. He was brought here for one thing: WIN. PLAYOFF. GAMES. As a mercenary, a hired-gun, that’s what he’ll be remembered for. And, what a better way to the start his final – and MOST IMPORTANT – chapter as a Royal than with a Game 5 win? Cueto, who took the ball and toed the rubber, walking away the winner, in the AL Central clincher and the home field advantage clincher, now has a chance to send the Royals to the ALCS in consecutive years.
“You either win and stay, or you go home,” Cueto told reporters today, through an interpreter. “And I’m ready for the opportunity, and I’m going to go get ’em.”
Cueto also knows that his future beyond Kansas City depends on what he does this postseason.
“I’m not going to lie, at times it’s been very difficult to take [pending free agency] out of my mind, but the fact of the matter is I’ve got to focus on pitching here and performing for this club and this organization,” he said. “Thank God the most important thing is that I feel good, healthy, and that gives me an opportunity to have success.”
And, the more his cost goes up for free agency, the better he is pitching in the postseason, on the national stage. The better he is pitching, the longer the Royals are playing.
It isn’t often that Chiefs season is over before the Royals.
After losing to the Bears, who were previously 1-8 in their last nine games, and losing Charles to ACL injury…AGAIN, Kansas City needs you, Royals. Four straight losses – 0-2 at home – both times pissing away a game. This one, why not as unbelievable as the first, was still as bad as it gets. The Chiefs led 17-3. Jay FREAKING Cutler rallied the troops, leading two scoring drives in the final 5 minutes and doing so without his No. 1 or 2 WR. Doing so with a banged up defense, while the Chiefs, who scored just one offensive TD – their only in eight quarters – laid down and died with Charles’ knee. The next two plays? Incomplete passes. Then, Cairo Santo, who set a franchise record with 7 field goals the week before at Cincy, had a chip-shot field goal blocked as Donald Stephenson literally took a swan dive. Alex Smith completed just 3 of 10 passes for 40 yards in the half – one coming on the final drive (could have been two if Jeremy Maclin holds onto a ball on the sideline), ending when Santos missed a would-be NFL record 66-yard field goal! SIXTY-SIX YARDER. The offense went into a shell, and went conservative, trying not to lose.
The Royals, facing elimination, on the brink of death, did not go into a shell. They believed. They rose to the occasion. They’d done this before, after all. The Kansas City Chiefs are dead. The Kansas City Royals almost followed suit, but survived it’s near-death experience. What will they do now?
Survive and advance.
So, I guess there’s only one thing left to do:
Follow us on Twitter: @KCSportsNation
Like us on Facebook
Follow Brian on Twitter: @BrianGraham624