As promised, here is the start of the “Royals World Series“, which is between the 2014 Royals and the 1982 Royals. Before I go into the “game” itself, let’s take a look at both teams and how they did that season.
1982 Royals (90-72, 2nd in AL West)
The 1982 Kansas City Royals finished second in the American League West, three games behind the California Angels, who ended up winning the division that season (though the Angels ended up losing in the ALCS to the Milwaukee Brewers, who won the AL East). The Royals excelled at home in 1982, as they posted a 56-25 record at Royals stadium in comparison to a 34-47 record away from Kansas City. Because of the Royals’ prowess in their home confines, it was not surprising that the Royals ranked second in terms of attendance that year in the American League. What sunk the Royals that year was an 11-16 September, which allowed the Angels to eventually run away with the division in 1982.
The Royals were led by their offense, as the Royals ranked first in the American League that year in hits, doubles, triples, and batting average. While they didn’t hit the long ball (they ranked 10th in home runs), it didn’t affect them too much, as they ranked 4th in the American League in runs scored. The Royals were led by the Mt. Rushmore of Willie Wilson, George Brett, Hal McRae, and Frank White, who ranked 1st-through-4th, respectively in WAR.
The Royals pitching on the other hand left a lot to be desired. Dan Quisenberry led all pitchers in WAR at 3.3. While he saved 35 games and was one of the best closers in the game in 1982, it wasn’t a good sign that the Royals’ most valuable pitcher came out of the bullpen, though Quisenberry did pitch over 136 innings that season. Vida Blue was the Royals’ most valuable pitcher with a 2.7 WAR and a 3.78 ERA, but Larry Gura was the “ace” of the Royals that year, going 18-12 over 248 innings, the only Royals pitcher to throw over 200 innings that season. While the offense was one of the AL’s best, the pitching was the inverse, as they ranked 14th in strikeouts and complete games, and only 10th in the AL in ERA.
2014 Royals (89-73, 2nd in AL Central)
The Royals were coming off a 86-76 season in 2013, their first winning season in almost a decade. Expectations were high in 2014, especially with James Shields in the final year of his deal, whom they acquired to help them end their playoff drought (they hadn’t made the postseason since 1985). However, the Royals didn’t get off to a good start, as a 12-17 May helped contribute to a mediocre 48-46 first half record at the All-Star break.
However, the Royals turned it in around in the second half and become one of baseball’s hottest teams, going 41-27 in the second half with a 34-21 record over the last two months of play. The Royals particularly succeeded in Inter-League play that year, going 15-5 against National League opponents.
Offensively, the Royals were a mixed bag, known for their speed and free-swinging approach, even though they lacked significant power and discipline at the plate. The Royals ranked first in the American League in Stolen Bases, but also ranked last in the American League in home runs and walks. Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain were the catalysts of this lineup, as they posted 6.1 and 4.4 WARs, respectively in 2014. However, the lineup lacked a lot of punch for the most part, as only those two posted OPS+ numbers over 100 that year.
On the other hand, the Royals pitching is what carried the Royals to regular season and eventually postseason success. James Shields and Danny Duffy led the rotation with 3.8 WARs each, but it was the bullpen that carried the Royals for most of the year. The Royals led the American League in saves, and was led by Wade Davis (3.8 WAR), Kelvin Herrera (2.9 WAR), and Greg Holland (2.6 WAR). 2014 also saw the full-season debut of Yordano Ventura, who posted a 3.20 ERA over 183 innings in 2014 (good for a WAR of 3.4).
1982 vs. 2014 Inning-by-Inning Recap
Key note: 2014 is the away team since they have the worse record.
- In the top of the first, Omar Infante gets a single for the 2014 Royals off of 1982 starting pitcher Larry Gura. However, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler ground out to waste Infante’s hit.
- Willie Wilson and Willie Aikens get things started, with singles off of Royals starter James Shields, to put runners on the corners with zero outs. However, Big Game James gets out of the jam, striking out Hal McRae, and then getting George Brett and Frank White to line out to first and flyout to center, respectively. Huge inning for Shields against the heart of the 82 lineup.
- After 1, it is 0-0.
- After Gordo strikes out to lead off the inning, Salvy singles and Moose doubles to put the 2014 team in scoring position with only one out. However, LoCain grounds out to shortstop to keep Salvy at third, and Escobar flies out to center to end the inning.
- Shields works quickly for the 2014 team with a 1-2-3 inning, getting Otis to fly out, Washington to ground out, and DH Martin to strike out.
- After 2, it is still 0-0.
- 2014 starts the scoring with a dynamic inning, led off by a Aoki triple off of Gura. Not to be outdone, Infante, continues his prowess at the plate, hitting another triple to bring in the game’s first run. However, despite the Royals having Infante at third with 3-4-5 in the lineup coming up, the 2014 club fails to take advantage. Hosmer and Butler both ground out to the right side of the field (3rd and short, respectively), keeping Infante at bay, and Gordo pops up to second to end the inning.
- Shields continues to dominate, mowing the 1982 lineup down again 1-2-3. C Wathan pops up to the catcher, and the Willie’s both get out, with Wilson flying out to center, and Aiken striking out swinging.
- After 3, the 2014 Royals lead 1-0.
- Gura is able to get through an inning with ease, as he puts down the 2014 Royals 1-2-3. Salvy strikes out swinging, and Moose and LoCain both ground out to third and short, respectively.
- Shields makes it 9-in-a-row, as he retires the side again. McRae flies out to right, while Brett and White ground out to second and first, respectively.
- After 4, the 2014 Royals still lead 1-0.
- Escobar does damage in multiple ways to start the inning. After hitting a single to right field, he ends up swiping second to put himself in scoring position with zero out. While Aoki flies out to center, Escobar is able to tag and advance to third. Then Infante hits the ball to McRae in center, who can’t make the play, which allows Escobar to score. Unfortunately, for 2014, Gura escapes the jam by getting Hosmer to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
- Shields continues to pitch the game of his life, as he makes it 12 in a row by retiring 1982 in order once again. Otis and Washington ground out to second and short, respectively, and Matin flies out to shallow center to end the inning.
- After 5, the 2014 Royals lead 2-0.
- Gura settles down a bit, getting the 4-5-6 of the 2014 lineup out in order. Butler pops out to second, Gordo goes down swinging, and Perez hits a sharp line drive back at Gura, who is able to snag it for the inning’s third out.
- Nine-hole hitter Wathan gives the 1982 club a bit of life, as he not only hits a single, but gets a stolen base off Shields, who hasn’t had baserunners on since the first inning. However, despite Wathan in scoring position, Shields gets Wilson to ground out to Moustakas to keep Wathan at bay, and follows it up with a backward K of Aikens. McRae smokes one to deep center, but LoCain is able to make the play to end the inning.
- After 6, the 2014 Royals lead 2-0.
- Moustakas gets the 2014 Royals off to a good start in the 7th with a single to left field. While LoCain strikes out swinging, Escobar is able to leg out an infield single which puts him and Moose at first and second, respectively, with one out. Aoki is able to advance moose and get on first with a 3-6 fielder’s choice, keeping the inning alive with two outs. With two outs, the Royals offense comes through, as Infante hits a single to left center field to score Moose and advance Aoki to third, and Hos breaks his hitless streak with a single to right field to score Aoki. After Hosmer’s RBI single, manager Dick Howser brings in righty Mike Armstrong for relief, and he proceeds to get Butler to pop up to shortstop to end the inning.
- With the 1982 Royals needing a jolt, the future Hall of Famer Brett provides it, leading off the game with a triple. White smokes a deep one to right center, but LoCain is able to snag it from becoming an extra bases hit, though the fly out manages to allow Brett to score. Despite the 82 Royals getting on the board, Otis and Washington are unable to build on it, as the fly out to center and right field, respectively.
- After 7, the 2014 Royals lead 4-1.
- Gordo earns the walk, but the Royals are unable to do anything with the leadoff hitter getting on base. Salvy grounds out to third, but a lackluster exchange by White allows Salvy to beat the throw at first, even though Gordo is out at second. Moose smokes one to center, but McRae is able to snag it. LoCain ends the inning with a groundout to short.
- Martin leads off the inning by striking out, but Wathan hits a soft infield hit that allows him to get on first with one out. Wilson unfortunately grounds into a 4-6 fielder’s choice, leaving him at first with two outs. However, Aikens keeps the inning alive with a line drive double down the line to right, which allows the speedy Wilson to score from first. McRae follows it up with a double down the left field line, which scores Aikens from second and puts McRae in scoring position at second. With two outs, Shields walks the 82’s best batter, Brett, to put runners on first and second. Ned Yost goes to the pen bringing in setup man Wade Davis, who unfortunately gives up a hit to White who smokes it to left, though McRae is unable to score from second due to it being hit hard to Gordo. With the bases loaded, Davis gets Otis to ground out to Moose to end the inning, a huge break for Davis and the 2014 club.
- After 8, it is a one-run game, with the 2014 Royals leading 4-3.
- Escobar flies out to left to open up the inning, but Aoki is able to hit a groundball single to right to get on base with one out. Infante flies out to left to get the inning’s second out, and after Infante’s out, Howser brings in lefty Don Hood to go against the left-handed Hosmer. Unfortunately, the strategy backfires, as Hosmer is able to get a groundball single to right, which advances the speedy Aoki to third. After struggling most of the game, Butler hits a single to left, which scores Aoki and advances Hosmer to third. However, the 2014 team can’t add onto the lead, as Gordo grounds out to first to end the inning.
- As expected, Yost brings in Holland to close out the ninth with a two-run lead. Holland gets Washington to ground out to him to lead off the inning, but Martin hits a groundball single, to put the tying run at the plate with only one out. That being said, Holland is able to dig deep, and get nine hole hitter Wathan to pop up to Escobar, and then proceeds to strike out Wilson swinging to end the game, and help advance the 2014 team to the Divisional round.
- Final Score: 2014 Royals 5, 1982 Royals 3. (Link will show full box score as well as play-by-play.)
Postgame Wrap Up
Shields was the star of the game, going 7.2 innings while allowing seven hits and 3 runs while striking out 5 and only walking one in 100 pitches of work. Holland got the save, only having to throw 14 pitches in the game’s final half-inning. Gura got the loss for the 1982 Royals, giving up 10 hits and four runs over 6.2 innings and 86 pitches.
Infante was the offensive MVP for the 2014 squad, as he went 3-for-5 with a triple and two RBI. Aoki, Hosmer, Moose, and Escobar also had two-hit games, with Butler, Infante, and Hosmer getting key two-out RBI in the Wild Card game. For 1982, only Aikens and Wathan had multiple hits (both with two), though McRae also had a key two-out RBI in the contest.
It wasn’t as wild as the 2014 Wild Card game against the Oakland Athletics, but this was a close one that went down to the wire. With the win, the 2014 team will advance to a 3-game series against the 1980 Royals, the top team in the “Frank White” League. Let’s see if the 2014 will be able to continue their postseason magic against one of the best clubs record-wise in Royals history.