Lorenzo Cain peered back toward the dugout before the ball even dropped. He knew. They all knew.
It was the bottom of the second on Tuesday night, game six of the World Series here at Kauffman Stadium. A billowing cloud of noise was echoing out toward Interstate 70, and Cain was cruising into first base after busting the game open with a two-run single.
How far had Cain come during the last month? How could he ever foresee the events of this October? The Royals were on their way to a 10-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants, forcing a game seven on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium. Cain had finished 2 for 3 with two walks. He had swooped into the gap to make another breathtaking catch. He had etched another chapter onto his burgeoning postseason legacy.
Now he stood in the Royals clubhouse, music pumping, fog hanging in the air, just one victory from a World Championship.
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“To finish this,” Cain would say, “it would definitely be the best feeling in the world.”
On the night of Oct. 2, on a warm night in Anaheim, Calif., the Royals had opened an American League Division Series against the Los Angeles Angels. On that night, Cain was still the mostly unheralded center fielder of the upstart Royals, the 28-year-old man with the intriguing back story. This center fielder who kept catching every baseball hit his way? He had not even started playing baseball until his sophomore year of high school. On that night in Anaheim, the Angels’ Kole Calhoun opened the game by crushing a ball to deep center. Cain reached the wall, elevated and plucked the ball harmlessly from the air.
This has been Cain for the last four weeks.
He is batting .338 this postseason. He has legged out five doubles and scored 13 runs. His three RBIs Tuesday gave him eight during these playoffs. If the rest of the country did not know the name Lorenzo Cain before these past few weeks, they know now.
“The guy has been balls to the wall all year,” Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson said.
Dyson stops for a moment. He’s heard these questions all October.
“The guy has been clutch for us all year,” he said. “How you overlook that?”
For Cain, the moments came early Tuesday. During a seven-run second inning, Cain served a soft single to right-center with the bases loaded. The single scored Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar and pushed the Royals’ lead to 4-0. One inning later, Cain crushed an RBI double to deep center, extending the lead to 8-0. He would also grind out two walks, at-bats that symbolized his postseason mantra.
“Find a way to just get on,” Cain said. “That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
Now he will have one more game, one more night to claim a championship for Kansas City. In the days after the ALDS, Cain’s first born son, Cameron Loe Cain, was born. It was, he says, the best moment of his life. Now he gets a game seven.
“We got to finish this thing,” Cain said, “and get the ring.”