They saved their most Royals win for last. Held in check against a dominant starting pitcher for eight innings, the door opened in the ninth. Just enough. With the battle of bullpen attrition underway, it was just a matter of time. Confidence was high and by the time the 12th rolled around and Wade Davis entered, it was all but assured.
The Kansas City Royals are the champions of the baseball world.
This caps the most amazing year and a half of my baseball fandom. From the second half of the 2014 season, to clinching a Wild Card spot in Chicago in September, to the Wild Card Game, to the sweeps in the ALDS and the ALCS, to being 90 feet away, to storming out of the gate this April, to cruising to the Central title, to being down to their final six outs in Houston, to battling the dangerous Blue Jays, to this. This moment. This wonderful, zany moment when we reach the summit.
World Series champions.
True to Royals form, this was a total team effort.
From Edinson Volquez, a big free agent signing this past winter, who pitched his heart out just days after attending the funeral for his father. With Matt Harvey on point, Volquez was tasked with keeping his team in the game. Six innings with two hits and five strikeouts were exactly what the team needed. Sure, there were runs, but Volquez continually pitched around and out of danger. Without his start, the Royals aren’t in position to comeback. I mean, the Royals are never out of the game, but some comebacks are easier than others.
— Kelvin Herrera, signed as an international free agent in 2006, pitched three innings in relief of Volquez. He set the tone for the bullpen, allowing just a single baserunner while getting his nine outs.
— Lorenzo Cain, part of the Zack Greinke deal, had a couple of the ugliest at bats I’ve seen from him all season against Harvey early in the game. He led off the ninth inning against the Mets starter and drew a walk. The second night in a row a LoCain base on balls ignited a rally.
— Eric Hosmer, the first round pick of 2008, who was nails with runners in scoring position all postseason, drives Cain home with an opposite field double, after Cain swiped second base.
— Mike Moustakas, the first round pick of 2007, needing to at the very least hit the ball to the right side, did in fact pull the ball for a ground out, advancing Hosmer to third.
— Sal Perez, signed by the Royals as a 16 year old when the Royals finally expanded their international scouting department, hitting a little squibber, in no-man’s land between third and short. Fielded by David Wright, Hosmer took off when the Mets third baseman stepped to first to make the throw. It was a play that was equal parts stupid and equal parts brilliant. Force the Mets defense to make a play. Hosmer was dead to rights. The game was over. But the throw home sailed wide and Hosmer slid, head first, across home with the tying run.
— Luke Hochevar, the Royals 1st round draft pick in 2006, the longest tenured Royal, coming in from the bullpen and throwing two shut down innings.
— Jarrod Dyson, the Royals 50th round draft pick in 2006, pinch running for Perez in the 12. Stealing second, moving to third on a ground out and coming home with the winning run.
— Christian Colon, the fourth overall draft pick in 2010, who hadn’t had an at bat since October 4, coming up with Dyson on third. He laced the most beautiful single I’ve seen.
Let’s be honest. It was over at that moment. With you know who, lurking in the bullpen, one run was going to be enough. But the Royals weren’t done. They had rallied all year. They had avoided elimination in Houston, they battered a tough Toronto team. They were going to make a statement in their final inning of 2015.
— Paulo Orlando, traded for Horacio Ramirez for crying out loud, hits one to second that gets booted.
— Alcides Escobar, picked up in the Zack Greinke trade, so hot all month, drives in the insurance runs with a double.
— Ben Zobrist, acquired at the trade deadline, is intentionally walked to load the bases.
— Cain again, doubling to clear the bases and provide the final margin, setting the stage for…
— Wade Davis, the key to the Wil Myers trade. Wait, screw that. It’s forever The Wade Davis Trade. Three up. Three down. The Wade Davis Experience.
Congratulations to the architect, Dayton Moore. Congrats to the scouts, the baseball ops guys, the support staff, the coaches… Everyone. You have given Kansas City a team for the ages. This has been the most memorable summer of baseball. When Clark and I started this blog in 2005, the Royals lost 106 games. World Series? We were just hoping they could hit the damn cutoff man. It wasn’t always smooth, and it took a little longer than we may have liked. But it happened. It really happened.
This post is a bit of a mess. I’m a bit of a mess. Never in my wildest dreams did I think this was possible. Over the next few days, I’m sure Clark and Aaron and I will be able to step back a bit and process what we saw.
What a night. What a season. Thanks for coming along for the ride with us.
One final Gatorade bath for 2015.
The parade is Tuesday. See you there.