2014 American League Wild Card Game
|2014 American League Wild Card Game|
|Kansas City Royals
89 - 73 in the AL
|1 - 0
88 - 74 in the AL
ALWC: Oakland Athletics vs. Kansas City Royals
|1||Oakland Athletics 8 Kansas City Royals 9||September 30||Jon Lester (0-0) James Shields (0-0)||8:07 pm|
Game 1 @ Kauffman Stadium
|WP: Jason Frasor (1-0), LP: Dan Otero (0-1)|
|Home Runs: OAK - Brandon Moss 2 (2)|
- Attendance: 40,502
The Kansas City Royals came out on top of one of the wildest games in postseason history, defeating the Oakland Athletics, 9-8, in 12 innings in the 2014 American League Wild Card Game. Both teams called upon starters with considerable postseason experience, James Shields for the Royals and Jon Lester for Oakland, but neither was able to contain the opposition, and both were long gone by the time the game was decided. A's manager Bob Melvin made a couple of unexpected moves in building his starting line-up, using back-up catcher Stephen Vogt at first base, while starting Brandon Moss as his DH and clean-up hitter, even though he had hit only .173 during the second half; left on the bench was veteran slugger Adam Dunn, who was finally on a postseason roster after 2,001 regular-season games.
The Athletics got out to an early lead as CF Coco Crisp led off the game against Shields with a single, then was driven in by Moss's two-run homer after two outs. The Royals struck back immediately however, with SS Alcides Escobar leading off the bottom of the 1st with an infield single off Lester; he was forced out by RF Nori Aoki, but after a second out, Aoki stole second base, the first of seven different Royals to steal successfully against two Oakland catchers, a postseason record. 1B Eric Hosmer then drew a walk and DH Billy Butler followed with a single to cut the lead to 2-1. The Royals went ahead in the 3rd when 3B Mike Moustakas led off with a single; Escobar moved him to second with a sacrifice bunt and he made it to third base on Aoki's ground out. CF Lorenzo Cain followed with a double that tied the score, then Hosmer singled for a 3-2 lead.
The Athletics came close to breaking the game open in the 5th. LF Sam Fuld led off with a single and Josh Donaldson drew a walk. Royals manager Ned Yost then took a fateful decision that almost ended his team's season: he removed the seasoned Shields, who had only made 88 pitches, to bring in hard-throwing rookie starter Yordano Ventura. As one headline writer put it: "Ned Yost wanted 'the gas,' and nearly torched the Royals". The youngster immediately coughed up a three-run homer to Moss to put the A's back in the lead, 5-3. All five Oakland RBIs belonged to Moss at that point, a team record for the postseason. Ventura stayed in the game, and continued to struggle: RF Josh Reddick singled then reached second on a wild pitch and third on SS Jed Lowrie's fly ball to right. Reliever Kelvin Herrera came in and got Vogt to pop up for the second out, but C Derek Norris followed with with a single for another run, then singles by 2B Eric Sogard and Crisp made the score 7-3. Oakland seemed in control of the game at that point, especially after Lester shutt out the Royals in the bottom of the 6th and in the 7th.
The Royals' second comeback started in the bottom of the 8th. Escobar started the inning with a single and stole second; Aoki grounded out, moving Escobar to third and Cain followed with a run-scoring single. He stole second, and Hosmer drew a walk, forcing Melvin to replace Lester with set-up man Luke Gregerson. Butler greeted him with a single that scored Cain and sent Hosmer to third. The speedy Terrance Gore came in as a pinch-runner for Butler and immediately stole second base, then Gregerson threw a wild pitch that brought the Royals to within one run, 7-6, and put the tying run 90 feet away with only one out. LF Alex Gordon was issued a walk, and he stole second as well, the fourth steal of the inning. However, Gregerson managed to strike out C Salvador Perez and 2B Omar Infante, both swinging, to end the threat. Kansas City had wasted a golden opportunity to tie the game; Greg Holland then managed to escape walking the bases full in the top of the 9th setting up a dramatic finish. A's All-Star closer Sean Doolittle took the mound to close out the game, but he gave up a lead-off single to pinch-hitter Josh Willingham, batting for Moustakas. Jarrod Dyson, another speedster, ran for Willingham and went to second on Escobar's sacrifice bunt. Dyson then stole third base, allowing him to score on Aoki's sacrifice fly to right.
In extra innings, the A's went down in order in the top of the 10th, but Hosmer led off the bottom of the frame with a single off Doolittle. Rookie Christian Colon pinch-hit for Gore and laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving Hosmer to second; however, Doolittle retired the next two batters, and the Royals were unable to score the winning run. In the top of the 12th, the A's got going against young Brandon Finnegan, who was still playing college ball when the season began starting his third inning of relief work. He walked lead-off hitter Reddick and Lowrie bunted him over. Veteran Jason Frasor took over on the mound, but facing pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo, he unloaded a wild pitch, moving Reddick to third; Callaspo singled to left and the A's were ahead, 8-7, bringing a pall of silence over Kauffman Stadium. But the Royals were nothing if not resilient. With Dan Otero taking the mound for a second inning of work, Cain grounded out, but Hosmer hit a drive to deep center, on which Fuld, now playing centerfield, and LF Jonny Gomes almost collided. The ball glanced off Fuld's glove and fell to the ground, allowing Hosmer to make it all the way to third with a triple. The rookie Colon then hit a high bouncer towards Donaldson at third base for an infield single, Hosmer coming in to tie the score. LhP Fernando Abad came in to face Gordon and got him to pop out for the second out. Melvin then decided to play the percentages and bring in righty starter Jason Hammel to face Perez. Colon took advantage of the change to swipe second base, the seventh successful steal for the Royals, and another one that would turn out to be huge. Now in scoring position, Colon was able to rush home when Perez singled down the third base line, sending the capacity crown into a frenzy. The comeback kids were moving on to the Division Series.
- Matt Fulks: Out Of The Blue: The Kansas City Royals' Historic 2014 Season, Triumph Books, Chicago, IL, 2015. ISBN 978-1-6293-7118-4
|Major League Baseball Wild Card Game|