Monday, November 02, 2015

Kansas City Royals take World Series - gain redemption for 2014 loss!


The Royals stunned the Mets by scoring two runs in the ninth inning to send the game into extra innings, then devastating the Mets with a five run explosion in the 12th inning.  Just when it looked like there was magic in the air for the Royals, there was.

Here is an exceptional account of the magical run by the Royals by Bob Nightengale from USA Today Sports.

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Nightengale: Royals find fitting end to World Series title

NEW YORK — The Kansas City Royals, their bodies drenched in champagne, and joyful tears in their eyes, had a simple question Sunday for everyone not wearing a uniform, and crashing their celebration.

Ok, now do you believe?

The Royals, who a year ago refused to take a gamble and were left 90 feet away from a World Series championship, this time doubled down, took the riskiest of risks, and seized that 90 feet.

Eric Hosmer’s daring dash for home in the ninth inning will be the defining moment of their World Series championship, stunning the New York Mets, 7-2, in 12 innings, and capturing their first championship in 30 years.

The Royals, the team that refused to go away, defying the greatest odds night after night this postseason, will go down as one of the most relentless teams of this generation.

The way it ended last year, with everything that happened,’’ Hosmer said, “it was such a magical run. You knew it couldn’t end like that. The ending of that story had to be way better than losing Game 7.

“Just to have the opportunity to come back with the same core group of guys, and have another chance to compete for a world championship is special in itself.

“We believed in each other, and we definitely made the most out of the opportunity.

Kansas City Royals, manager Ned Yost

“We refused to quit.’’

Oh, how they were relentless.

Four times the Royals trailed in the eighth inning or later in this World Series, and three times they won.

The Royals had eight comeback victories this postseason, including seven times they trailed by two or more runs, setting another record.

Salvador Perez Named 2015 World Series MVP

They scored 40 runs in the eighth inning or later. No one else produced more than five.

 “They were as determined a group as I’ve ever seen,’’ Royals manager Ned Yost said. “They were going to get back and they were going to finish the deal this time. So from Day 1 there was no doubt in my mind that they wouldn’t accomplish it.

“And the cool thing about this team is everything these guys set out to accomplish, they did.

“They wanted to win the division. They won it by 11 games. They wanted to win home-field advantage for the playoffs. They did.

“They wanted to win the World Series.’’

Yep, they did that too.

This night was the most glorious of all their comebacks, starting in the ninth inning against ace Matt Harvey, when Mets manager Terry Collins had his Grady Little moment. They tied it with a two-out daredevil dash by Eric Hosmer. And won it in the 12th when a guy drafted three spots ahead of Harvey, Christian Colon, gets the go-ahead hit with his first plate appearance of the entire postseason.

“I think we had some angels on our side,’’ said Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas, one of three Royals’ players who lost a parent in the last two months. “We knew the only way to get rid of last year’s feeling, was to go out there and finish the deal.’’

Oh, how they did just that.

The Royals were shut out for eight innings. They were losing 2-0. They had only four hits. And just three baserunners since the third inning.

Harvey pitched unbelievably,’’ Yost said, “but it never entered my mind that we were not going to score two or three runs and take the lead at that point.’’

The sell-out crowd at Citi Field chanting his name, Harvey talked Collins out of pulling him in the dugout, and raced out of the dugout, skipped over the foul line, and took the mound.

“If he'd taken him out,’’ Mets third baseman David Wright said, “he'd have probably needed to fight 44,000 people.”

The joint was jumping, and Harvey again was on the verge of storybook heroics. This would be his Jack Morris moment, adamantly refusing to come out of this game, leading 2-0, with his team facing elimination.

“That’s the thing,’’ Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain said. “Even though Harvey pitched a great game, we wanted him to come out in the ninth. We wanted hm. We didn’t want to face anybody but him.

“That was the mind-set of our team.

“We kept saying, “We’re going to get him. We’re going to knock him out of the game.

“We’re going to knock him out.

“We got him, didn’t we?’’

Cain started it with a walk. Collins thought about taking Harvey out of the game, but decided against it. Hosmer followed by drilled a 94-mph fastball into the left-field corner for a double, scoring Cain.

This time, Collins came out.

One batter too late.

I try not to let the crowd influence me,” Collins said. “I just trusted him. He said, “I want this game. I want it bad. You’ve got to leave me in.’ I said, "You got it. You've earned this. So go get 'em.’;

“So it's my fault. It's not his.’’

Closer Jeurys Familia, who had already blown two saves in the series, entered the game, and induced a grounder by Mike Moustakas, moving Hosmer to third base. Now, with the infield in, Salvador Perez, who made that final out of Game 7 last year, hit a little dribbler fielded by third baseman David Wright.

Wright picked it up clearly, looked back towards Hosmer, and threw to first baseman Lucas Duda for the second out.

The moment Wright threw the ball, Hosmer took off running.

“I just saw his head turn towards first, decided to take another shuffle,’’ Hosmer said, “ and as soon as he went to throw it, I just decided it was a good time to take a chance. It was an opportunity to steal a run.

“But as soon I left, I thought I should turn back. But it was too late.’’

Duda caught the ball, saw Hosmer racing towards home, and threw home. If he makes a good throw, he’s out by 10 feet. A decent throw, he’s out by five feet.

It was an awful throw, the ball sailing five feet past catcher Travis d’Arnaud, tying the game at 2-apiece.

“I would have been shocked if Hos didn’t try that,’’ said Royals baserunning coach Rusty Kuntz. 

“That’s his nature. And we were going to keep doing it until they screwed it up. That’s us.

“It’s all about pressure at this level. How many teams have 20-year-old somethings all over the field?

When you have that, you use what they were gifted with, and that’s energy and speed.

“They use it. And don’t fear failure.’’

And if Hosmer was thrown out?

“We would have done it again in Game 6,’’ Kuntz said. “Look, there’s a handful [of first basemen] that you would do it. And there’s a handful of good first basemen out there. But Duda, bless his heart, he’s a good bat.

“Wide left.’’

Said Duda: “That took some [guts] for him to do that. Down one out, with one out to go, that’s be the third out. But the way they run the bases, you can; be shocked by anything. That’s kind of their game in a nutshell. Put pressure on the defense. They did that the entire series.’’

It was another piece of brilliant intelligence the Royals’ advance scouts provided to the team. They told them that Duda has trouble throwing the ball. And they reminded them that Wright is playing with a sore shoulder, and throws almost side-arm to first base.

“I tell our people all the time,’’ said Royals GM Dayton Moore, praising his scouts, “We’re not smarter than anybody else. We don’t work harder than anybody else. But we have to care more than anybody else.’’

The Royals took full advantage.

Once again.

“And once we tied it,’’ said Alex Gordon, the Royals’ captain, “we knew we had it. It was like, “Here we go again.’ We weren’t going to lose the game. No one can match up with our bullpen."

The Royals’ bullpen, which allowed just one hit and two baserunners the final six innings, suffocated the life out of the Mets’ offense. The Royals’ offense exploded in the 12th inning off Addison Reed, highlighted by Cain’s three-run double, making it the most lopsided extra-inning victory in World Series history.

 “When we scored all of those runs, I went out there in the outfield,’’ said Gordon, their longest-tenured player, “and started looking at all of the fans, all of the smiles, all of the joy. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live.’’

“It had been so long. It was getting kind of old just seeing the highlights of George [Brett] and Frank [White]. We cherish what they did, but we wanted to make our own memories.’’

Oh, and how they did, reminding everyone that this is a young man’s game. You don’t have to hit the most homers. You don’t need a staff full of 20-game winners. Just put the ball in play on offense, play great defense, and always, but always, stay aggressive.

Now, this same franchise that had 17 losing seasons in 18 years, that lost 100 games three consecutive years, is sitting proudly atop the baseball world once again.

“This is the damndest thing I’ve ever seen,’’ said Hall of Famer George Brett, the franchise’s greatest player. “People in Kansas City are going bonkers over this organisation. I’ve never seen anything like it.

“When we were losing all of those games. I would tell people I never worked for the Royals. Now, I tell everybody. It just means so much to me because I still live here. I played here, and never left.

“Tell me a player who still lives in the city they played in? Nobody. I’m the guy who still lives in Kansas City. Where does Derek Jeter live? Florida. He doesn’t live in New York.

“I’m so proud to say I live in Kansas City.

“These guys, have made us all proud again to be a Royal.’’

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