If you ever needed convincing that no baseball game is over until it’s over, that truth was again served in Tuesday night’s crazy American League Wild Card playoff game. The Kansas City Royals made two improbable comebacks to win in 12 innings over the Oakland Athletics, 9-8.
Kansas City waited 29 years since their last postseason appearance and the Royals made their first playoff game since that time a memorable one.
Brandon Moss nearly played the hero for Oakland, clubbing two home runs on the night. After a fast start to this season, Moss struggled after the team dealt away Yoenis Cespedes back on July 31. The All-Star had been in an absolute free fall since the move – he had 23 home runs up until the trade, but only two more the rest of the season while batting well below .200.
All of that seemed forgotten on Tuesday night, however.
Moss hit a two-run home run in the first inning and after a back and forth affair with teams trading runs early on, Oakland opened things wide open in the sixth inning. Trailing 3-2, the Athletics exploded for five runs in the top half of the frame, led by Moss’ second home run of the night – a three-run shot off of Yordano Ventura. Ventura never looked comfortable in the game and he retired only one batter while giving up two hits, including the home run.
The decision to bring in Ventura, a starting pitcher, was a curious move by manager Ned Yost, since Kansas City has relied all year on a solid bullpen. Ventura is a hard thrower, but just pitched two days ago on Sunday. On top of that, he wasn’t sharp then, either, giving up four runs in four innings. To Yost’s credit, his goal was likely to get an inning out of Ventura before bringing in his relievers. Fortunately for him, his decision didn’t cost the team in the comeback win.
Trailing 7-3 in the eighth inning, Kansas City appeared destined for an early exit. However, the Royals rallied, scoring three runs, to make things interesting. A huge factor in the game was the Royals’ speed on the basepaths. Kansas City stole four bases in the eighth and had seven steals on the night, tying a playoff record. The Royals officially completed the comeback in the ninth after scratching out a run on a Norichika Aoki sacrifice fly that scored Jarrod Dyson, who had stolen third, to even things up at 7-7.
A few innings later, Oakland again appeared to have things under control by scoring a run in the top of the 12th inning. A single by Alberto Callaspo scored Josh Reddick to give the A’s a brief 8-7 lead. As was the case earlier, however, it didn’t last.
Kansas City ended Oakland’s season in the bottom of the inning and again, it was a stolen base that was partially responsible for manufacturing a run. After an Eric Hosmer triple, Christian Colon‘s infield single brought him home from third base. With two outs, Colon stole second base and was driven in by catcher Salvador Perez, who had only one hit on the night.
Hosmer summed it up perfectly at the end of the night. “This will go down as the craziest game I’ve ever played,” said the first baseman.
The Royals advance to the Division Series and will play the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night.
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