Redemption…..that’s a word that stands out to me when I look back at Game 5 of the World Series for The Kansas City Royals. Redemption in so many ways. Perhaps I’m not thinking of all the ways the Royals redeemed themselves in Game 5. Three things stand out to me: two occurred in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series and one occurred all the way back in June of 2010. By redeeming these items, the Royals overcame it all, and brought home the first baseball Championship to the city of Kansas City since 2015, erasing 30 years of horror and frustration that had overcome a franchise that was once considered a “model franchise” from 1969 to 1985.
Redemption Part 1
In order for Part 1 to occur, something had to happen in Part 2 (more on that later) but Part 1 started first so let’s go there. Going into Game 7 of the World Series, Bruce Bochy probably knew that his two best options to pitch were Jeremy Affdelt, a former failed Royals starter, turned somewhat decent reliever, turned into one of the most dominant postseason relievers ever, and of course Madison Bumgarner, no further words required. He probably knew that he couldn’t start the game with either of those two, but he probably knew that at the first sign of trouble, he would have to go get Tim Hudson and insert the now un-hittable Affdelt against The Royals. Sure enough, in the bottom of the second, after Tim Hudson had squandered the lead, Bruce Bochy went out, took the ball from Hudson and brought in Affdelt. The Royals never scored again.
I’d like to think Ned Yost knew that his best option that night in Game 7 was to make use of his biggest weapon….his bullpen. I’d like to think that Yost, and myself, knew that he could not start the game with his bullpen, just in case the game somehow went to extra innings. Since Bochy was starting Hudson, it made sense to go with Jeremy Guthrie, his scheduled starter. Up until this point, I have no problems with what occurred. Until the 4th inning. The dreaded 4th inning. What would Ned Yost do? Send out Jeremy Guthrie or unleash the fury known as the Royals bullpen. He chose Guthrie, and his decision ultimately cost the Royals the World Series in my mind. Coming up to bat in the 4th inning in a tie game for the Giants were Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence, and Brandon Belt. All three had reached base on Guthrie in the 2nd inning which led to two Giants runs. They were now coming up again to face Guthrie in a do or die game with a fully rested arsenal waiting in the Royals bullpen. Instead, Yost went with Guthrie who promptly gave up hits to both Sandoval and Pence. With 1st and 2nd and no out, Brandon Belt hit a high fly ball deep enough to left center to allow Sandoval to tag up and reach third base. Knowing Guthrie was in trouble, Yost summoned his bullpen. Herrera was unable to do damage control and Michael Morse singled home the game winning run in the 4th inning. Bochy countered with Affdelt in the 4th and then gave the ball to Madison Bumgarner who promptly through another five shutout innings.
I’d like to think that maybe if Yost had started the 4th inning with Herrera that things might have turned differently. Perhaps Bumgarner would not have come into the game that quick, and the Royals might have been able to get a couple more runs and ride Herrera, Davis, and Holland to a World Series. Instead, the decision of Yost backfired, and The Giants won it all.
Now fast forward one year. Game 5 of the World Series and down 2-0 and facing an off day for travel, Ned Yost summoned Kelvin Herrera to pitch the seventh inning versus the Mets. Yost hesitated this time to bring Herrera in during the middle of an inning and allowed Edison Volquez to pitch out of trouble. Now it was the 7th, and the Royals, having a knack of comebacks all postseason, were still in the game and Yost was managing almost like he had a 2-0 lead at that point, instead of a 2-0 deficit. Herrera responded like he always does, retiring 5 of the 6 batters he faced through two innings and inducing one double play ground ball. He had faced the minimum through two innings. By doing that, Herrera had not yet seen the entire batting order and if the opportunity presented itself, had the ability to go out, pitch a third inning, against a different part of the lineup he had not seen. Well, because part 2 happened, Herrera did just that. Three innings, 9 batters, 1 hit, 9 outs, extra innings. Redemption….part 1
Part 2a….90 stinking feet
I think we all know enough about part 2 where I don’t have to go into great detail. 90 stinking feet separated the Royals from tying Game 7 of the World Series after former Royals OF Gregory Blanco horribly misplayed Alex Gordon’s single, which allowed Gordon to reach 3rd base. Unfortunately Salvador Perez was unable to get the job done, and the Royals season ended with the tying run on third base.
Yes, there are two parts to part 2. The first one being Alcides Escobar. Everyone knows that Alcides Escobar swings at the first pitch. It’s why Noah Syndergaard went high and tight on him in Game 3. But in Game 1, on the first pitch, Alcides Escobar swung at a fastball that drifted towards the same part of the park where Alex Gordon’s ball eventually came to rest. Yoenis Cespedes, who was playing Center Field on a bum hamstring for some reason, horribly misplayed the ball, and Alcides Escobar had an inside the park home run. Redemption….or so I thought……
Part 2b…90 stinking feet
Tying runner on 3rd….one out….World Series clinching game on the line….Salvador Perez at the plate…sound familiar? Instead this time there was one out and the runner on 3rd was Eric Hosmer. Inexplicably, Hosmer’s second error of the series allowed The Mets to score a second run in the 6th inning. Now, Hosmer represented the tying run. This time, Perez put the ball in play. Mets Third Baseman David Wright charged at the ball, which probably should have been played by the Shortstop Wilmer Flores. After checking off Hosmer a couple times, Wright fired the ball to first. Simultaneously, not wanting to wait on third base any longer, Hosmer took off. Like Game 7 last year, a good throw would have gotten the runner by a mile, but instead Lucas Duda uncorked a wild pitch towards home plate. The game was tied and the Royals were on their way.
Redemption…in more ways than one
Part 3…The 2010 Draft
While Dayton Moore has done a very good job drafting, signing, and developing talent, the biggest gaffe in his time in Kansas City probably is the 2010 MLB Draft. The Royals picked 50 guys and the only guy who has ever made the major league roster and had some sort of an impact was the 4th overall pick. That man is Christian Colon, a light hitting shortstop from Cal State Fullerton. As the legend is told, Royals scouts went back and forth who to pick. There was Colon…and then there was Chris Sale..a left-handed pitcher from Florida Gulf Coast University. The Royals picked Colon at four and signed him immediately. Sale dropped all the way to 13th where he was snatched up by the division rival Chicago White Sox. As everyone knows, Sale has become of the best left handed starting pitchers in the game and peaked this year with 274 strikeouts in just 208 innings. Colon, on the other hand, has seen the majority of his career bounce from starting in the minor leagues, to being on the Royals bench.
But here it was, top of the 12th inning. A runner was on third base and there was one out. The Royals needed a pinch hitter and the only realistic option at that point was one Christian Colon. I turned to someone next to me at the bar and said “this is where it comes full circle. They picked Colon over Sale. He’s going to do it.” And he did. Colon singled to left, scored Dyson, the floodgates opened and The Royals won the World Series. I do not think it takes much of a baseball brain to realize that Sale is going to have a career that will make Colon’s seem insignificant on the stat sheet, but for one night, Colon’s impact brought home a World Series.
Redemption…Part 3…Nothing else to do but go back and win it all in 2016!