Royal’s vs. A’s, An Instant Classic

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With nothing of interest on television last night, I decided that I would give watching baseball another chance. I grew up a huge baseball fan but recently have lost a lot of interest in the sport. The combination of the my team, the Mets being the almost unwatchable team that they normally are and fall out of the steroid era turned my attention away from baseball. Last night however, I was treated to one of the great games in playoff history.

In sports there is nothing better than a do or die game. The emotion from the players, the volume of the fans and the constant stress and pressure of the situation makes for an electric atmosphere and amazing viewing experience. Baseball’s current playoff format flawlessly capitalizes on the excitement, tension and unpredictability of a win or go home game. After playing 162 the Royals and Athletics needed to win one game to keep their seasons alive. What followed was 12-inning instant classic filled with colossal home runs, managerial mistakes and amazing comebacks.

With James Shields and John Lester on the mound and the low scoring nature of each team, this game figured to be a classic pitchers duel. That all quickly changed in the first inning when Brandon Moss hit a 426 ft. homerun deep into the right field seats. The Royals then showed how hard of a team they will be to eliminate, getting a run back in the first and taking the lead in the third on a single by Eric Hosmer. The A’s took the lead back in the sixth on another massive homerun by Moss after Royals manager Ned Yost decided to remove Shields from the game a couple batters to early. All season long the Royals unhittable, flame-throwing bullpen has been their biggest strength as Kansas City was 72-1 when leading after 7 innings. After removing Shields, Yost decided to bring in 23 year old Yordano Ventura rather than one of his 3 dominant bullpen arms.

Before last night Ventura had only one relief appearance and his inexperience showed as he quickly surrendered the homerun to Moss. Down 7-3 after the 6th a once electric stadium became almost silent. The Royals were not known for their offense all season long. Last in the league in homeruns and in the bottom half in other statistical categories, a miraculous comeback seemed doubtful. The Royals needing to manufacture runs quickly fell back on their biggest strength, their speed. Seven different Royals stole bases last night, five of whom ended up scoring. The Royals strung together hits, ran and bunted their way to a 7-7-tie game and free baseball for the fans.

In the 12th the A’s took a one run lead on a single by Josh Reddick and once again things looked very bleak for the Royals. In the bottom half of the inning the Royals rallied again getting a one out triple from Eric Hosmer, who later scored on an infield single by Christian Colon. Another stolen base and a single by Salvador Perez and Kansas City wa dancing like it was 1985.

An extra inning game with six lead changes in a do or die situation, that’s what the playoffs are all about. This was a classic baseball game, with both teams using small ball and team first concept to score runs. Both of these teams personify a new age of baseball. Neither team has a superstar hitter, but by using advanced statistics and relying on pitching both teams were able to play winning baseball. Being a person who strayed away from baseball because of the endless steroid use, a game in which the winning team relied on speed, fundamentals and a team concept was incredibly refreshing.

Ben Touger | News Cult