Championship season full of magical moments
Royals' title run marked by incredible comebacks
KANSAS CITY -- So, how in the world does anyone reduce the Royals' World Series championship season down to the five greatest moments?
By being extremely selective, so don't get angry over all the great moments not included here.
We cannot ignore the greatness of the regular season, and we won't. There were plenty of thrilling moments that led up to the joyride of the postseason. We'll start with one of the most improbable and thrilling comebacks during the regular season, a precursor to the magic of the postseason.
1. Royals 8, Red Sox 6, Aug. 23: The Royals were not particularly playing great baseball, and they were about to drop three of four to the Red Sox at Fenway. Then a crazy ninth inning unfolded. Omar Infante led off with a triple to deep left-center, but he was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park homer on a Bo Jackson-like throw from Jackie Bradley Jr. No hope, right? Wrong.
Drew Butera and Alcides Escobar followed with singles. But then Ben Zobrist lined out to shortstop, and Escobar was nearly doubled up. Two outs. Just not the Royals' day, right? Yes it was. Lorenzo Cain followed with a single, loading the bases. Then Eric Hosmer singled to left-center, scoring Butera and Escobar, and the game was tied. Mike Moustakas followed with a two-run double, leaving the Fenway faithful stunned. But as mentioned, this was typical of the 2015 Royals and more miracles were on the way.
2. Royals 4, Mariners 3, Sept. 23: The Royals' September swoon was getting serious -- they had lost 12 of 17 entering this game. And they were drubbed, 11-2, the night before by the Mariners. Another loss was staring them in the face as they trailed, 3-2, entering the bottom of the ninth. But Cain and Hosmer singled with one out, and Kendrys Morales walked. Then Jarrod Dyson punched a short fly to right field. Cain gambled and tagged, and barely beat the throw, tying the game.
Cain then hit a game-winning one-out single in the bottom of the 10th, scoring pinch-runner Paulo Orlando. What was even more significant is that it set the stage for the next night, when the Royals buried the M's, 10-4, and finally clinched their first division in 30 years.
3. Royals 9, Astros 6, Game 4 ALDS: This one may not have been as dramatic as the 2014 Wild Card Game, but it was close. The Royals were down in the series 2-1, and down in the game, 6-2, with just six outs between them and a long, lonely winter. Then, once again, the improbable struck. Alex Rios, Escobar, Zobrist, Cain and Hosmer all singled, making it 6-4. Then Morales sent a hot two-hopper up the middle that skipped past shortstop Carlos Correa into center field. Two runs scored and it was tied.
After a long battle, Butera coaxed a walk -- one of the best ABs of the postseason -- loading the bases. Alex Gordon followed with an RBI groundout and the Royals had the lead. Hosmer added a two-run blast in the ninth and the Royals extended the series back to Kansas City, where they won Game 5 and advanced.
4. Royals 4, Blue Jays 3, Game 6, ALCS: No one will ever forget the job closer Wade Davis did in this game. The Blue Jays rallied to tie the game at 3 in the eighth on Jose Bautista's one-out, two-run homer off Ryan Madson, much to the horror of the Kauffman Stadium crowd, which figured the Royals had this one sewed up. Davis then entered -- too late for critics of manager Ned Yost -- and got the final two outs of the inning.
The Royals pushed across the go-ahead run when Hosmer singled to right in the eighth and Cain scored all the way from first, one of the most thrilling plays of the postseason. But hey, it got better. Rains swept over Kauffman Stadium, forcing a 45-minute delay and jeopardizing Davis' return for the ninth. But Davis insisted to Yost he could still pitch the ninth.
The Blue Jays quickly got a runner on third with none out on a single and two stolen bases. A walk put runners at the corners, and after a strikeout and a stolen base, the Mets had the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on second. Davis got another strikeout setting up a duel with AL MVP Josh Donaldson, who grounded out to third. The Royals were on their way to the World Series for the second straight season.
5. Royals 7, Mets 2, Game 5, World Series: Reserve infielder Christian Colon already had a place in Royals' lore after knocking in the tying run and scoring the winning run in the 2014 Wild Card Game. He added to that in Game 5.
Certainly no one will forget Hosmer's mad dash for home that tied the game in the ninth. But Colon entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the 12th with the lead run on third and one out. Keep in mind that Colon had made zero appearances in the postseason until this at bat. He promptly drilled an RBI single to left-center off Addison Reed as the Royals' dugout erupted, and the Royals added four more runs to win their first crown in 30 years.