It took 12 innings, but Kansas City Royals were able to take the 9-8 win over Oakland Athletics late Tuesday night in Kansas City.
In a game for the final spot in the American League playoffs, the Royals and A’s dualed in the wildcard elimination game. The game was set up to be an astounding pitching matchup between Jon Lester for the A’s and James Shields for the Royals, both carrying impressive seasons with 14+ wins into the important matchup. Both pitchers were products of their respective teams after being acquired in the past couple years from long tenors with other franchises; Lester with the Red Sox, and Shields with the Rays.
The game started hot with two quick runs from Oakland thanks to a two-run home run from Brandon Moss answered by an RBI single from Billy Butler in the bottom of the first to make it 2-1. Kansas City was able to put two more runs on the board in the third before the A’s blasted five runs, including a second Brandon Moss home run with runners on base in the sixth.
At 7-3 in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Royals knew it was time to start a rally. Lorenzo Cain and Billy Butler both singled to score two runs, putting the Royals within distance. After a wild pitch from Luke Gregerson, the Royals’ Eric Hosmer scored from third to make it a one run game.
In the top of the ninth, the Royals bullpen sat down the side from Oakland. In the bottom, Josh Willingham was the first batter of the inning for the Royals, and he singled to right and was immediately relieved for pinch runner Jarrod Dyson. After being moved to second on a fielder’s choice and stealing third, Dyson began hyping up the crowd and the entire stadium knew it was coming. Right fielder Norichika Aoki came up for the Royals and pelted a sacrifice fly to deep right to bring Dyson in and tie the game in the bottom of the 9th.
The extra innings were filled with pressure as both team got runners on base, but neither could get the sacred run across. In the top of the 12th, one of the Athletics all-stars, Josh Donaldson, walked to start the inning and was moved to third after a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch. Alberto Callaspo came up with one out and shot a single into left field, scoring Donaldson and giving the A’s an 8-7 lead.
Dan Otero pitched the 11th and 12th for the Athletics. With one out, Royals’ Eric Hosmer was back at the plate. He belted a triple off the wall just inches shy of tying the game. Christian Colon hit a chopper down the third base line and scored Hosmer from third, getting a base hit and an RBI out of the at-bat.
After pulling Fernando Abad and inserting Jason Hammels to pitch for the Athletics, Colon stole second. With two outs, Salvador Perez snuck a ball past Donaldson at third to bring Colon in and win the game, 9-8.
For the first time in 29 years, the Royals achieved a post-season victory.
Jason Frasor got the win and Dan Otero took the loss as the two teams combined to use 13 pitchers.
K.C. will head to Anaheim to take on the Angels on Thursday.