On September 30, 2014, against the Oakland A’s, Salvador Perez smashed a ball down the third base line and sent Kansas City into a frenzy. The frenzy lasted close to two years, brought two AL pennants and one World Championship and countless indelible moments to our beloved franchise.
On September 15, 2016, against the Oakland A’s, the Royals were swept away. Outscored 43-12. Mathematically, they are still alive. Realistically, this will be the first October in three years where the Royals will not be participants.
Two years after one of the greatest moments in franchise history, the 2016 Royals stumble through the worst four game series in franchise history. Baseball, man.
The A’s, formerly of Kansas City, provide the bookends to an amazing journey; a two year baseball joyride. New heroes brought baseball back to life in the heartland. The photo at the top of this article is the moment after Perez put the barrel on a pitch he had no business connecting with, let alone pulling into left field. It’s there because it was the ignition switch to all of this insanity. The subsequent late nights, the adrenaline, the levitation, THE PARADE. Since Perez grounded that single down the third base line, I’ve spent countless hours reflecting, trying to list the moments I’ve seen, and the memories I’ve collected. It’s futile. There are so damn many, stacked one after the other. An endless carousel of baseball fun. When Perez hit that single, we had no idea the literal flood that would follow.
Thank you, boys. For everything that’s happened the last two years. It was worth every glorious minute.
No pitcher has been more frustrating to watch this season than Edinson Volquez. Certainly, other pitchers have had their moments of infamy in this lost 2016 season, but start for start, there has been no pitcher like Volquez. Equal parts excruciation and annoyance.
On nights where Volquez gets past the first inning unscathed, like Thursday, he still dumps a clunker of an inning further down the road. For this game, it was the third. Highlighted by a mammoth home run by Ryon Healy. It’s possible I’m underselling it. Statcast measured it as 112 mph off the bat. It carried and it carried. Over the wall, over the fountains, landing an estimated 480 feet from home plate. Witness:
Longest projected HRs this season:
Mark Reynolds 484ft
Tom Murphy 481ft
Ryon Healy 480ft < Tonight
— Daren Willman (@darenw) September 16, 2016
At least Volquez gave us this moment. Go big. The fifth longest home run of the year. At The K. Mercy.
The final report on Volquez’s night against Oakland was 81 pitches, 10 outs, and nine runs.
It’s tough to watch him pitch only because I developed quite a fondness for Sexy Ed going back to last season. He was a solid addition to the rotation and pitched big in October while dealing with the tragedy of his father passing away. Volquez is Forever Royal. But you can’t escape the fact this is a results-driven business and Volquez hasn’t gotten it done this season. There was speculation about a qualifying offer being tendered, but I just don’t see how that would be possible. Volquez has struggled before and rebounded. Maybe a change of scenery will get him back on track. I don’t know and I’m not willing to pay to try to figure it out.
Meanwhile, the A’s spent this week crushing Volquez and the rest of the Royals staff. This was probably the worst four game series in franchise history. It was an unfair fight. This series should underscore the fact you should never assume anything in baseball. A good looking match-up? A potential contender against a team playing out the string? Battle tested versus the green rookies and sundry minor leaguers? Ha.
The Royals showed a final bit of fight. Down 14 in the ninth, they put five runs on the board. Hunter Dozier collected his first big league hit. Christian Colon knocked his first one out of the yard. These Royals, bless their hearts, still have at least a little bit of fight. It was never going to be enough. But for a moment, October magic was conjured and it was fun again at The K. The Royals made their mark by climbing up off the mat again and again, a Lazarus act that defied all odds. Could they? Would they?
Not Thursday. Like their standing in the Wild Card race, this time the Royals simply dug themselves a hole that was too deep. When Terrance Gore flied out to center, it was the final punctuation mark on a brilliant two year run.