How does one put into words what happened at Kauffman Stadium on Monday night? One can mention any combination of words: stunning, amazing, dumbfounding. But none of those words can really give any justice to the Royals walk off win against the Chicago White Sox.
The Kansas City Royals are are deep into the playoff race. At this point, their record sits at 82-67, and they are currently a game and a half behind the Detroit Tigers for the division and hold the second wild card spot. Although their recent play has been more than discouraging.
After losing two of three to the Tigers, the Boston Red Sox came to Kansas City and took three of four against the Royals in a series they had no business winning. The Royals’ offense picked the most inopportune time to idle, and despite their good pitching and elite defense, they just weren’t winning games.
Then came Monday night. The Royals’ offense was showing off another weak outing, scoring just two runs through the first eight innings.
The score was 3-2 in favor of the White Sox to begin the ninth, and Mike Moustakas led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Speedster Jarrod Dyson pinch ran for Moustakas, and after a wild pitch from the White Sox closer, Dyson sped around third and into home to tie the game.
Moments later, Nori Aoki sliced a double, his fourth hit of the game, to left field, and on came another speedster, Terrance Gore, to pinch run for him.
Speed is something the Royals have taken pride in this year. They are first in the American League in stolen bases, and part of what makes their defense so special is the speed that the players carry.
Both Jarrod Dyson and Terrance Gore came up onto the roster in improbable ways. Dyson was drafted in the 50th round of the 2006 draft, and has spent time on the Royals for the past couple of years. Gore was drafted in the 20th round in 2011, and was called up just this month. But what they both have in common is their game-breaking speed, and both played significant roles in the win.
Up came center fielder Lorenzo Cain with an opportunity to win the game for Kansas City. He proceeded to chop a grounder through the middle of the infield and over the pitcher’s head. Both of the White Sox middle infielders went after it and neither could get a grip. In a mere matter of seconds, Terrance Gore crossed home plate with the winning run, advancing two bases without the ball even leaving the infield.
With the Royals slumping, it seems as if this incredible win came at a perfect time. Of course, there is always a chance Kansas City keeps slumping and drops out of the playoff race in disappointing fashion. But maybe this walk off will create a sort of spark for the team, one that will create confidence and push us towards our first playoff appearance since 1985.
Whatever does happen, it has been a hell of a ride thus far.