Speier lives out 'craziest baseball experience'

Royals reliever rushed into game action after promotion, journey from Triple-A

September 16th, 2021

KANSAS CITY -- 's calmness on the mound when he came in to face Matt Olson and the middle of the A’s order in the seventh inning on Wednesday night did not encapsulate the full story of the Royals reliever’s evening.

In a span of 30 minutes, Speier arrived at Kauffman Stadium after a three-hour drive from Triple-A Omaha, changed into his uniform, ran out to warm up in the bullpen, entered the game and got two outs to get the Royals out of another big inning for Oakland.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like the Gabe Speier appearance,” manager Mike Matheny said. “It was out of his car, into the clubhouse, had to pull a Clark Kent in his locker and run out straight to the bullpen to get hot, and get out one of the better left-handers in the game.”

Speier was selected to the Royals' roster in place of Wade Davis, who went on the injured list on Wednesday with right shoulder inflammation. Four hours after Speier got the call, he was pitching in Kansas City.

“I’d say it was the craziest baseball experience of my life,” Speier added.

The timeline of Speier’s night shows just how crazy it was:

2:15 p.m. CT: Speier shows up to Werner Park just like any other gameday and went through his pregame routine ahead of the Storm Chasers’ game against the Iowa Cubs.

6:15 p.m.: Speier got the call that he was needed in Kansas City that night. The Royals had waited until after Davis had played catch and gotten checked out by the trainers before they knew they had to make the roster move.

“We had a number of guys down yesterday, and we were thinking if this game goes late and we run through all our pitching, he would be here to help us late or in extra innings,” Matheny said.

6:50 p.m.: Speier and his wife, Megan, and dog, Dax -- a 4-year-old golden doodle -- hit the road. Gabe drove as Megan periodically checked the game score and gave updates.

“I honestly kind of assumed I wasn’t going to pitch, because I was showing up late to the game,” Speier said.

9:30 p.m.: Speier arrived and ran into the clubhouse to get changed. The seventh inning was getting started, and Kris Bubic came into the clubhouse to ask when Speier would be ready because Matheny might need him.

“I thought he was messing with me, to be honest,” Speier said. “But I got my stuff on, and sure enough, Mike was like, 'Go down there and get ready.'”

9:50 p.m.: In between pitches, Speier ran along the warning track to the Royals' bullpen, where bullpen catcher Parker Morin said Speier was being tagged for the hitter in the hole -- Olson, a left-handed hitter.

While Speier was rushing to the bullpen, his wife was rushing to get into the stadium to see him pitch. The gate attendants ushered her quickly into the stands in time to see Speier’s appearance. Even Dax got to watch from the stands.

“I came in, and went straight to warming up,” Speier said. “She went to the gate, freaking out, and was like, ‘My husband’s about to pitch can I please go through?’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, go, run!’ So she and Dax were able to see it.”

9:57 p.m.: Speier officially entered the game. Starling Marte’s single had led to four consecutive hits off Kyle Zimmer, so Speier came on to face Olson with one out. Speier got Olson to strike out swinging on a slider, then he allowed an RBI single to Kris Davis. But Speier got out of the inning with Mark Canha’s groundout and was able to finally catch his breath.

“It was really remarkable,” Matheny said. “I thought he looked great. Gave him a tough part of the lineup, tough assignment all the way around, but stuff looks good. You see he looks stronger, looks confident on the mound.”

Speier retired Canha on a sinker, a pitch that Speier has focused on improving this season in Omaha, where he has a 2.98 ERA in 45 1/3 innings. It’s given him another option against right-handers and led to more ground balls. Now, the Royals have another lefty option in the ‘pen alongside Jake Brentz.

After the game, Speier made sure to go into Matheny’s office and properly shake the manager’s hand.

“It’s made its way down to Omaha because I’ve let a couple of guys have it pretty good,” Matheny said. “He comes in after the game and goes, ‘I know your rule, so I figured I better at least come in after the game because I couldn’t do it before.’”