A royally wild night

Ho.ly. cow.

Sam Mellinger wrote prior to tonight’s game that “Tuesday night, grown men will cry.” Boy, was he accurate.

I began writing this post around 9:45 p.m. Sept. 30, as the Royals were losing their first postseason game since 1985 by a score of 7-3 to the Oakland A’s. I figured this magical Royals season was over and, really, I was just trying to stay out of the fetal position.

Stay with me …

Today had been such a good. The Royals were coming off a good win Sunday. Kansas City has been buzzing. Postseason baseball was finally here in Kansas City. The girls wore Royals gear to school today. It felt like the stars were aligning and the hours leading to game time couldn’t seem to pass fast enough.

I arrived home from work around 6 p.m. Kates was getting ready to serve up a tortellini pasta salad for dinner. We ate at the dinner table with eyes divided toward the pregame show on TBS.

7:07 first pitch. Big Game James Shields was on the mound for the Royals. Things were looking good. … Then Brandon Moss crushed a two-run home run in the top of the first to give the A’s a 2-0 lead.

Deep breaths.

Billy Butler hit an RBI-single in the bottom of the inning. The Royals had runners on the corners with two outs, and Alex Gordon came to the plate. I figured the Royals were lining up for at least a couple more runs … But Butler made a huge base-running gaffe, got himself in a rundown and the A’s caught Eric Hosmer trying to steal home to end the inning. Oh man, that’s going to come back to haunt us, I thought.

Deep breaths.

In the third inning, Lorenzo Cain, who has been so locked in during the stretch run, slapped an RBI-double to left. And Hosmer drops a single into left for the go-ahead run.

The Royals had a 3-2 lead. Shields was hitting a stride. The stars were aligning.

Around this time, Kates and I were hustling the girls to bed. Phoebe, my little baseball buddy, had been sweetly watching and cheering with me on the couch. … Faye, meanwhile, was giving Kates the battle of her life, from bath time to bed time, and screaming like she was being tortured. We’ve officially entered the terrible twos with that one.

Then the sixth inning happened. I had finished putting Phoebe to bed and was returning to the living room as Yordano Ventura was taking the mound.

I’ve remained a strong supporter of Ned Yost. … But I thought his decision to pull Shields for Ventura was plain awful. Leave alone the fact that Ventura is a rookie starting pitcher with no postseason experience. Anyone who’s followed the Royals this season knows Ventura is a hard thrower with sometimes shaky control and emotions. That was not a situation for him to pitch in.

Before the inning was over, the A’s had taken a 7-3 lead. … With the Royals offensive struggles, I really did think the season was over. All season long their magic formula to win games has been strong pitching and scoring at least four runs -- the Royals were 69-14 during the regular season when scoring four runs in more. But getting more than four runs has been something of a rarity, let alone coming back from that kind of deficit. The Royals hadn't scored more than seven runs in a game since Aug. 17.

Ned Yost was getting blasted on Twitter. And that’s an understatement.

Thanks, Len. That was fun.

Don't Stop Believin’” reportedly played at Kauffman Stadium after the sixth inning. ... But Jon Lester was cruising, too. I texted my friend Tom: “We ain’t getting nothin’ off Lester at this point in the game.”

The Kauffman Stadium crowd was dead. Kansas City reporters assigned to the watch parties were tweeting that fans were starting to head home. In the meantime, I kept reading the Yost-bashing on Twitter and finding laughter in it. It was helping me get over the crush of the defeat.

Then the eighth inning happened.

Alcides Escobar got it started with a single and stole second base. Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI-single to make it 7-4 and stole second, too.

Hosmer hit a shot down the first-base line that got past the A's first baseman, but the first base umpire ruled it a foul ball, saying the first baseman knocked it foul. It was a shady call, and it couldn't be reviewed.

For the uninitiated, the above tweet is hilarious because of this famous play that saved the Royals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series.

The inning continued. Lester was pulled from the game, but the Royals' run continued.

Billy Butler hit an RBI single. Eric Hosmer scored on a wild pitch. And all of a sudden the Royals were down just 7-6 in the eighth inning.

Suddenly Kauffman Stadium was roaring. Things were getting crazy. Twitter was a wildfire of activity.

But with runners on the corners and still only one out in the inning Salvador Perez and Omar Infante struck out on a total of seven pitches. Ugh.

Somehow the Royals escaped the top of ninth inning without giving up another run.

Then, the bottom of the ninth …

Royals fans knew what was coming next …

Dyson stole his way over to third and scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 7-7.

We went to extras, and we had a whooooooooole new ballgame. Wow.

The game progressed. In the bottom of the 10th and the bottom of the 11th, the Royals had runners in scoring position and couldn’t put the game away. Thankfully, their rookie pitching phenom Brandon Finnegan was blowing A’s hitters away. As far as I'm concerned, he was the MVP of the game

It was becoming a game with no end in sight. … I was running out of breaths. Or heart beats. Either one.

My Twitter feed topics were going something like this: Royals. Royals. Royals. Royals. Royals. Another topic. Royals. Royals. Royals. Royals. Royals. Another topic. Royals. Royals …

Joe Posnanski tried to sum it up for people who were joining late … Yeah, the commercials with a creepy Rob Lowe and Viagra, and the puppy thing were a whole other set of storylines during the game.

Top of the 12th, and the A’s score the go-ahead run. Now it’s 8-7 and I’m thinking, well, dang. No matter who wins, this was a heckuva game and it was a fun season for the Royals.

Little did I know.

The bottom of the 12th arrives.

Then Eric Hosmer hits a deep ball to left. It didn’t look to me like it was going to make it out for a home run. But it kept drifting and – as if God is a Royals fan – the two A’s outfielders collided at the wall, the ball skidded away, and Hosmer landed safely at third with a triple.

Then, Hosmer scored on a chopper by Christian Colon

And Salvador Perez came to the plate. He was 0-for-5 on the night and has been a non-factor in the Royals offense. But I love watching Salvador Perez. Salvy had to do it. I wanted him to do it so badly.

He hit a ground ball down the third base line that just barely got past A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson, allowing Colon to score the winning run.

I jumped off the couch caught myself squelching a larger leap off the floor, not only to avoid waking up the girls but to protect my head from hitting the ceiling. Royals win.

George Brett’s reaction was priceless. And captured what all of us were feeling.

The Royals stole seven bases. They never quit. Everyone contributed. … But the thing is: Us Royals fans have watched them do what they did tonight again and again. Sort of.
How can I sleep after this. Maybe best of all, now the Royals and their fans don’t have to hear the dreaded line: “They haven’t won a postseason game in 1985.”
And this just in: Here is what is now this morning's front page of The Kansas City Star.
Good reads ...  
If you grew up in Kansas City in the years after the 1985 World Series, you came to know certain things about your city. You knew that the suburbs were a cozy place to grow up, and that the Grandview Triangle meant traffic. You knew that downtown was somehow a functioning ghost town. You knew that Derrick Thomas was always coming off the edge, and Marcus Allen would gain that extra yard, and that, yes, you were wearing your Chiefs jersey to school on Friday. You knew that the “Timber Wolf” at Worlds of Fun was the “No. 1 wooden roller coaster in the world,” and that Gates Bar-B-Q was here to help you, and that The Plaza would be always be alive on a cold, winter night. And for a certain generation, you knew that summers meant losing baseball.
Not any more.

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