Ryan Goins’ misplay leads to Royals’ Game 2-winning rally

Is there anything the Royals can’t do? Is there any postseason start David Price can’t lose. For six innings in Game 2 of the ALCS, it sure looked like the Royals wouldn’t solve Price, and he would finally get that elusive postseason gem. Except they did, so he wouldn’t. And it all began with one of those weird plays that always seems to mark October baseball.

Alcides Escobar led off the bottom of the first inning, and smacked Price’s first pitch for a single. 

After which, Price retired 18 Royals in a row. After that first pitch, he was perfect for six innings. Meanwhile, Price’s teammates built a 3-0 lead.

That’s where things stood after the seventh-inning stretch.

Ben Zobrist led off the bottom of the seventh with a pop to short right field. Which is exactly when everything went to hell for Price and his Jays…

So what happened?

First, it’s worth mentioning that Jays second baseman Ryan Goins, a rookie this season, ranked among Major League Baseball’s best-fielding second basemen.

Second, this could have happened to anybody:

 

“I stuck my glove up, I thought I heard something but it wasn’t, so I didn’t go after it aggressive enough,” Goins said. “It dropped and that was it. It led to a big rally by them. I just thought I heard “I got it,” but it was nothing. I should have gone at it more aggressively, put my glove up like I always do, that means I got it and I just didn’t make the play.”

 

 

As good as Goins is at making that play look easy, Bautista confidently went into a trot as he approached, knowing that the first out of the inning would be recorded, with the Jays still leading 3-0. That would have left eight outs to go with left-hander David Price in control, working on a one-hitter, but all of a sudden that ball with nobody close to laying a glove on it, became a base hit that keyed a five-run rally, handing the lead to the Royals dominant bullpen, and eventually winning 6-3. You can’t make mistakes like that.

Actually, you can. Even after Goins’ gaffe, the Blue Jays still had (roughly speaking) an 85-percent chance of winning the game. But then Lorenzo Cain singled and Eric Hosmer singled and (after an out) Mike Moustakas singled, and finally the Royals were favorites. Then Alex Gordon doubled to make the score 4-3, here comes that Kansas City bullpen, and goodbye Blue Jays.

What’s worth mentioning, finally, is that crowd noise is a pretty good excuse. You play games for seven months — first in spring training, then the long regular season — while very rarely having to worry about the crowd. You learn to rely on your ears in certain situations. Like this one. 

Except you can’t.

Thirty years ago, the Royals were also the beneficiaries of crowd noise. When Don Denkinger blew that call at first base, he couldn’t hear the ball hit Todd Worrell’s glove. So he went with his gut, and his gut was wrong.

The Cardinals played poorly after Denkinger’s call; if they hadn’t, they still would have won Game 6 and the World Series.

The Blue Jays played poorly after Goins’ miscue; if they hadn’t, they still would have Game 2 and evened the ALCS.

There are, without a doubt, huge October moments. But none of them could exist without an infinite number of smaller moments, some of them even more unlikely.