Royals find fitting end to World Series title
The Kansas City Royals, the team that persevered and never gave up, did it again Sunday night and are now World Series champions.
The Royals, one out away from defeat, knocked off the New York Mets 7-2 in 12 innings to take the World Series in five games, their first championship since 1985.
They scored five runs in the decisive 12th inning, the go-ahead RBI coming from reserve infielder Christian Colon, who singled in his only at-bat in the series.
“I felt from the beginning that this group, after what they accomplished last year and saw the heartbreak in their eyes after Game 7, that we had unfinished business to do,” Royals manager Ned Yost said before the game. “And, yeah, I sit there sometimes and think this is just the way it’s supposed to be.’’
Fittingly, they won it on their latest madcap comeback of the season.
It was also their eighth comeback of the postseason and the sixth time they overcame a deficit of at least two runs.
Incredibly, they scored 41 runs in the eighth inning or later this postseason. No one else scored more than five.
These Royals never led in the game until the final inning, stymied all evening by Matt Harvey’s dominance. But they finally got to the big guy in the ninth inning.
Harvey, screaming at Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen and manager Terry Collins before the ninth inning and telling them that he wasn’t coming out of the game, never should have taken the mound.
Collins should have listened to his head instead of his heart.
Harvey gave up a leadoff walk to Lorenzo Cain. Collins was tempted but left Harvey in the game. The right-hander then gave up a screaming double into the left-field corner, scoring Cain.
This time, Collins came out.
One batter too late.
Closer Jeurys Familia induced a grounder by Mike Moustakas that moved Eric Hosmer to third base. With the infield in, Salvador Perez, who made the final out in Game 7 of last year’s World Series, hit a little dribbler fielded by third baseman David Wright, who threw to first baseman Lucas Duda for the second out. And then Hosmer took off running.
The crowd screaming, Duda fired toward home, but it sailed wildly past catcher Travis d’Arnaud, tying the game at 2-2.
Just like that, it was Familia’s third blown save of the World Series after saving 20 in a row since July 30.
“They just keep coming after you,’’ Wright said before the game. “One run against that team ain’t going to get it done. One run, that’s just not safe. We need more than that, because they keep fighting, they keep putting runners in scoring position. If they don’t get it done one inning, they get it done the next. They just keep coming at you until they get that big hit.
“Then, they got those guys in the bullpen who are lights-out.’’
And again, the Royals’ bullpen did the job, suffocating the Mets’ attack.
“We knew the only way to get rid of last year’s feeling,’’ Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas said before the game, “is to go out there and finish the deal.’’
They did just that.
The Royals, who went 29 years without reaching the postseason until last year, believed it was World Series championship or bust. That’s why they brought back virtually everybody, knowing that if they didn’t get it done this year, their window could be closing.
“We all realize that these opportunities don’t come often,’’ Hosmer said. “And I think that’s one thing that we all really focused in on in spring training was the fact that we came so close to winning a World Series.
“I think we all realized how special it is to have another chance of accomplishing this goal, because there’s plenty of teams in the past that have come close to winning the World Series, and the next year you just don’t get those same group of guys back.
“That’s something we’ve all realized that’s a big opportunity for us and something we don’t want to let slip away.’’
It’s this closeness that brought Edinson Volquez back to the team to pitch Sunday night, three days after burying his father, Daniel, in the Dominican Republic.
Volquez put on a stellar performance, giving up two hits and one earned run, but it was Curtis Granderson’s leadoff homer in the first inning, and an error by Hosmer, that led to the second run and a 2-0 deficit.
“Just tells you the type of teammate he is, the type of competitor he is,’’ Hosmer said. “We certainly did not expect him to come back and be ready to pitch in a World Series game. This game is obviously important. This game has taken a majority of our lives, eight months out of the year we all spend with each other, and we all do everything. Our day is always based around baseball.
“So when you mix family in there and something as crazy as that happens, you don’t even want to think about baseball. You want to be with your family. You don’t even want to think about going out there and throwing a baseball.
“It’s something that as a teammate you just want to be there for him.’’
Volquez, who learned of his father’s death after he pitched Game 1 of the World Series, said he couldn’t let his teammates down.
Most important, he couldn’t let his father down.
“My mom told me before I got here,” Volquez said late Saturday night, “ ’Go over there and enjoy the game like you always do and be proud. We are proud of you. And be proud, and make people proud, more proud than they are.’
“So that’s why I’m here. I want to pitch. I want to make people proud. That’s what I love. It’s the only thing I know.”