The O’s may not be royal, but the World Series is. After 29 long years without making the play offs, and one of the most improbable and historic runs in post season history, the Kansas City Royals are heading back to the World Series.
Game four in Kansas City started out great for the boys in blue. Starting pitcher Jason Vargas retired the side; three up three down. In the bottom of the first after hitting the second batter to the plate, the Royals had two runners on. Eric Hosmer got on base with an infield hit, which sent Alcides Escobar around the bases to score. The throw to the plate got by the catcher, and Nori Aoki was able to score as well. Royals up 2-0.
In the top of the third, Orioles third baseman Ryan Flaherty hit a solo home run to get the O’s on the board. 2-1 Kansas City lead. Not much action in the bottom of the third or the fourth innings. In the top of the fifth however, Alex Gordon made a catch on the run, slamming into the fence and taking out the microphone. He fell to the ground in pain. In very slow motion Gordon held his glove in the air letting everyone know that he was able to hang on to the ball and get the first out of the inning, as Kauffman Stadium erupted. Vargas followed the amazing catch with back to back strike outs to end the inning.
It has been 29 long years since the Royals were in this position. To put that fact into perspective, here are some things that were happening the last time Kansas City’s team was in the fall classic. The average price of a gallon of gas was $1.09, and beloved bacon was only $1.65 per pound. The wreckage of the Titanic was found, the very first .com domain name was registered, the first version of Windows was released, and Compact Discs were introduced.
To say the Kansas City Royals have waited awhile to be successful would be quite the understatement. The average age of their main starting lineup is 27.4 years old. That means that most of the players on the Royals team were not even alive the last time the Royals went to the World Series.
Vargas pitched into the sixth inning where he was replaced by Kelvin Herrera. Vargas left the game to a standing ovation after only allowing one earned run to the O’s. Herrera gave up a single to Adam Jones which advanced Jonathon Schoop to third base. Nelson Cruz came to the plate with two runners on, and the tying run just 90 feet away. A line drive to the second baseman ended the inning however.
In the bottom half of the eighth inning designated hitter, Billy Butler hit a leadoff double to start the inning which sent the Kansas City crowd into a frenzy. Gordon was next at the plate and was struck out looking. Salvador Perez then hit a sacrifice ground ball to the first base side advancing the runner to third base. An intentional base on balls put runners on the corners for Mike Moustakas. No runs were scored, two runners left stranded and the fate of a World Series birth was done to the three final outs.
First up in the ninth was Jones who got on base with a full count walk. Nelson Cruz was up next. The regular season home run leader, looking for some post season magic got on base with a fielder’s choice as the runner on second was forced out. With one runner on, and one out, Delmon Young stepped up to the plate only to strike out. Down to their final out, and the season on the line J.J. Hardy was back at the plate. As the hearts of Orioles fans began to sink to their stomachs, Hardy hit a grounder to third base for the final out.
As the Kansas City crowd erupted, the Royals celebrated midfield. The World Series was about to get its first Royal Treatment in 29 long years. The Royals, after sweeping the entire post season will wait to see the winner of the NLCS where they will face either cross state St. Louis Cardinals, or the San Francisco Giants. San Francisco currently leads that series 2-1.
Commentary by Andy Lapic
Photo By Keith Allison –Flickr License