Top 10 moments in the Royals’ 2014 journey to the World Series
By Jeffrey Flanagan
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With the Kansas City Royals now playing on a national stage in the World Series, many fans might wonder how they got there. Here are 10 moments that help describe their journey -- and that Royals fans will not soon forget.
May 29: Royals 8, Blue Jays 6 (10 innings)
The Royals went into Toronto on a season low, having just been swept in three games by the lowly Astros at home. And the Royals, desperate to ignite a pitiful offense, had just replaced hitting coach Pedro Grifol with Dale Sveum. The Royals appeared to be headed toward another loss when, with two outs in the ninth, Sal Perez bounced a routine grounder to short. But the Jays' Jose Reyes threw low and in the dirt to first, Perez was safe and pinch runner Jarrod Dyson (right) scored the tying run all the way from second base. The Royals then won it in the 10th.
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY SportsDan Hamilton
June 17: Royals 11, Tigers 4
The streaking Royals went into Motown and pounded Max Scherzer for seven runs in the second inning behind homers from Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas (above) en route to a big win. The night before the Royals had rocked Justin Verlander, 11-8. But this win, part of a 10-game winning streak, put the Royals in first place.
June 29: Royals 5, Angels 4
The Royals wrapped up a dismal 3-6 homestand on an encouraging note as Omar Infante (right) singled home the winner in the ninth inning. It was the Royals' first walk-off win of the season -- and it got them off the schneid as the last team in the major leagues to finally win a game in such fashion.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY SportsPeter Aiken
July 9: Royals 5, Rays 4
The Royals salvaged a 3-3 road trip in the most unlikely of manners -- a big ninth-inning rally. Down 4-2, the Royals got two runners on and then Sal Perez (right) lifted a towering fly into the left-field corner and the ball just carried over the wall for a three-run homer.
July 22: Royals 7, White Sox 1
The game itself wasn't all that memorable -- a rather ugly affair dominated by bloopers and doinks and walks. But it was the pregame players-only meeting that made this one significant. The Royals had lost four straight coming out of the All-Star break and their season was slipping away. After the meeting -- an idea hatched by Raul Ibanez (above) and James Shields -- the Royals won 16 of 19 games and vaulted back into first place.
Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY SportsMike Dinovo
Aug. 1: Royals 1, A's 0
Almost to a man, Royals players point to this game as a huge turning point and momentum builder. The Royals were starting a tough three-game series at Oakland, and at that point the A's were considered the best team in baseball. Privately, Royals officials were just hoping to avoid getting swept. But Jeremy Guthrie, perhaps the weakest link in the rotation, managed to shut out the A's over six innings. That game launched a crucial 5-1 road trip.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY SportsEd Szczepanski
Aug. 26: Royals 2, Twins 1
The Royals were about to drop their third straight and had done nothing offensively again as they trailed, 1-0, going into the bottom of the ninth against nasty Twins closer Glen Perkins. But Alcides Escobar blooped a single to center and Alex Gordon lifted a two-run, walk-off homer to right-center off a stunned Perkins. There was plenty more magic to come at Kauffman Stadium.
Sept. 22: Royals 2, Indians 0
The Royals had just started the season's critical final road trip with a loss in a suspended game earlier in the evening. The Royals desperately needed to fight back the Indians, who still had visions of surpassing the Royals for a playoff spot. Left-hander Danny Duffy, in his first game back from a shoulder injury, didn't have much command, but he gutted through six shutout innings, and the Royals deflated the Indians' spirits.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY SportsKen Blaze
Sept. 26: Royals 3, White Sox 1
Once again, Jeremy Guthrie was in position to come through in a big game. And he did. Guthrie threw seven shutout innings and the Royals clinched their first playoff berth since 1985. Almost 30 front-office folks and scouts were flown into Chicago for the celebration, and a few hundred fans from Kansas City also were there for the momentous occasion. Champagne flowed and the party went on well into the night.
APNam Y. Huh
Sept. 30: Royals 9, A's 8 (12 innings)
No Royals fan will ever forget this night. A packed crowd at Kauffman Stadium simply willed the Royals to victory. The Royals fell behind, 7-3, but fans stayed in their seats and watched with delight as the Royals got three in the eighth and one in the ninth to tie it. And after falling behind, 8-7, in the 12th, the Royals tied it again, then won it on Sal Perez's single down the left-field line. A game for the ages.