I have to be honest: this Coronavirus scare is equal parts difficult, saddening, and anxiety-inducing (not good for a guy who deals with mild anxiety). I was supposed to fly in and visit Oakland (and live up my own version of “Oakland Nights“) this weekend to see a couple of friends and visit my parents (who would be traveling down from Sacramento). However, the trip unfortunately got kiboshed due to the traveling scares going on around the country. So, instead of getting to enjoy some time with friends and family back in sunny California, I am here in Kansas City, which is sunny, but going through its own share of Coronavirus scares, as evidenced below:
I was thinking about writing something about the Coronavirus-fallout, and why family and public health is more important than sports, and even baseball, especially as it seems the Royals’ season, like many other Major League clubs, will be delayed, as pointed out from the Royals in the tweet below:
However, there is plenty out there in the blogosphere and internet talking about the Coronavirus panic in more eloquent ways than I could. So I will just leave it up to them and instead focus on Royals baseball, though it may be challenging to do so during these difficult times.
With no Spring Training games going on, and the start of the 2020 season uncertain, I decided to forego looking at the current Royals squad (I will go into more depth in a review of Spring Training in tomorrow’s post), and decided to take a look at the Royals of the past, hence the #RetroRoyals hashtag. With no sports on, I have had to try and find any kind of distraction via YouTube, and I stumbled upon Game 6 of the Royals-Giants World Series in 2014. And thus, I decided to go in-depth into this game, and why it should be a mandatory replay watch for any Royals fan.
The game (box score)
Why this game is important in Royals history
This postseason game often gets forgotten in Kansas City lore, mostly because the Royals ended up losing the 2014 World Series to the San Francisco Giants in seven games. Royals fans remember Game 7. They remember Alex Gordon not being sent home. They remember Madison Bumgarner single-handedly taking a title from Kansas City. They remember Salvador Perez popping out to Pablo Sandoval to end the game.
However, Royals fans often forget that the Royals were down 3-2 in the World Series after Madison Bumgarner thoroughly dominated in Game 5 in San Francisco. After game 5, it seemed highly likely that the Royals were going to cave in and fold, even though the last two games of the series were at Kauffman Stadium. After all, Bumgarner just owned the Royals in the World Series, and the pressure was on the Royals to keep the Series alive despite facing elimination in Game 6.
If the Royals lost Game 6, it would’ve been a predictable story in baseball lore. And who could blame them? Down three games to two to a team with the best pitcher in baseball? All the chips were stacked against the Royals to win the Series, let alone the game. And yet, despite those odds, the Royals and Kauffman Stadium came up ready, and helped the Royals extend the Series to a seventh game, with a decisive 10-0 win in front of the Kansas City faithful.
Who will we remember from this game?
Without doubt, this was Yordano Ventura’s crown achievement as a Royals pitcher. As a 23-year-old, Ventura took the hill in an elimination game where the Royals had to win in order to stay alive. The pressure was on not just the Royals, but the young Dominican-born pitcher, who in the Wild Card game, nearly blew the Royals’ playoff hopes against the Oakland Athletics. In retrospect, it was surprising that Ventura didn’t just get the ball in such a critical game against the Giants, but it also was a revelation that he dominated the Giants in a “do or die” World Series contest.
For the game, Ventura went seven innings, and allowed only 3 three hits and zero runs in the critical World Series contest. Ventura wasn’t perfect by any means, of course. The did walk five batters, and only struck out four, but the fact that he allowed zero runs and kept a streaky Giants lineup at bay in a game where they could’ve won the World Series was an impressive feat, especially for a pitcher who was in his first full year in the Big Leagues.
While Ventura wasn’t perfect with his command, the defense bailed him out, and Ventura’s stuff came through in the biggest moments. And Game Six should be something Royals fans should remember him for, especially in the wake of his passing.
Other than Ventura, Mike Moustakas stood out the most in this game, as his double in the second-inning sparked a seven-run inning that put the dagger into the Giants early. In addition to the key RBI-inducing double early in the game, Moustakas hit a seventh-inning bomb off of Hunter Strickland (a bonafide doucebag), that basically sank the dagger even deeper into the Giants in the critical Game 6.
Without a doubt, of the core Royals who ended up leaving Kansas City after the 2017 season (Moustakas, Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, etc.), Moustakas is the one I missed the most. While he didn’t have the fanfare of Hosmer, or the athleticism and dynamo of Cain, “Moose” was a dependable bat and glove who came through in the biggest moments, as evidenced below:
How will Royals fans remember this game?
Most Royals fans won’t. And it’s a shame, as it was a glorious moment for any Royals fan in attendance that evening. As stated before, most teams would have folded down three-games-to-two. It’s understandable and common, especially in a series when everyone knew that Bumgarner would re-appear in Game 7. Most teams would have folded. Most teams would have thrown in the towel and been like “Well…the Giants were the better team, anyways.” And yet, the Royals not only kept the Series alive, they thumped the shit out of the Giants in front of the sold-out Kauffman faithful, emphasizing to all those in attendance that the Royals were not out of the Series at all.
I miss the raucous crowds at Kauffman Stadium. I miss baseball in October, and watching it with a bunch of Bon Iver-loving hipsters in Midtown Kansas City. I miss Yordano’s blazing heat, and his weird-leg kick-follow through after burning one in at the plate. I miss Moose’s “semi-double chin” and look on his face after he drove in some big runs in the biggest of moments at Kauffman Stadium. I miss seeing Billy Butler as a Royal.
If you have three or so hours to kill, which wouldn’t be surprising considering the current climate we live in, I would sit down and watch Game 6 of the 2014 World Series.
It won’t make you forget Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, but it will certainly lessen the blow.