Coming into this one, fans were hyped up about the Jon Lester-James Shields pitching matchup. We could be watching one of the lowest scoring postseason games, with many people predicting this would be a one run game, in favor of either ball club.
It's amazing how much this game diverted from that story.
In the top of the first, Coco Crisp hit a one-out single off Shields, starting an Athletics rally that would net them two runs on a Brandon Moss homer to right. But Jon Lester would not be able to hold that lead, as after the Royals got one back in the bottom of the inning, they scored two more, on back-to-back hits - a Lorenzo Cain RBI double and a Eric Hosmer RBI single.
Lester was acquired by the Athletics back in July, in a trade that sent Yoenis Cespedes to Boston. With Lester likely to be gone in free agency this winter, the Red Sox are looking like the real winners now.
But they didn't know that at that time last night.
James Shields had come into the sixth inning with a 3-2 lead and was determined to keep it that way. However, things exploded. Sam Fuld led off with a single, followed by a Josh Donaldson walk, putting two runners on with nobody out. Then, Royals manager Ned Yost made a questionable decision by taking Shields out of the game after 88 pitches, and bringing rookie pitcher Yordano Ventura into the game. Ventura had already thrown 77 pitches back on Sunday.
Many were questionable of the move and they had a right to feel that way. The first batter Ventura faced, Brandon Moss, hit a three-run homer to center, his second of the game, to give the Athletics the lead once again. When the dust finally settled, the A's had a 7-3 lead, and had just about shut the Royals party down.
The Royals had only scored eight runs or more 14 times during the regular season.
That remained the score until the bottom of the eighth. But the Royals had one more fight in them. An RBI single from Lorenzo Cain and an Eric Hosmer walk took Jon Lester out of the game in favor of Luke Gregerson. A Billy Butler RBI single made it a two run game and a wild pitch from Gregerson cut the deficit to one. In the ninth, Nori Aoki hit a sacrifice fly to right, and tied the game at seven apiece.
The Athletics played this game like their season. They started off slow, then got really hot, and collapsed at the end.
With two out in the bottom of the twelfth, and Christian Colon on second base, Royals catcher Salvador Perez finished the Athletics off, with a walk-off single to left. Do you believe in miracles? The Royals certainly do. They're now headed to Los Angeles to take on the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series.
Royals 9, Athletics 8 FINAL/12