April 25: Ventura announces himself
Yordano Ventura emerged in full bloom on this soggy night at Camden Yards against the Orioles. He pitched into the eighth inning for the first time as a Royal. He struck out eight and threw a career-high 113 pitches. In a 5-0 victory, he displayed all the evidence of his bright future.
May 14: The “Vargy” and “Moose” Show
Jason Vargas blanked the Rockies for 6 2/3 innings at Kauffman Stadium and finished off a two-game sweep. But the attention centered on third baseman Mike Moustakas. Frustrated about stories written in The Star concerning his potential demotion, Moustakas appeared annoyed at having to answer questions after the game about his critical three-run double. His phrase “Vargy pitched a great game” soon became a useful meme.
May 28: Astros sweep at Kauffman Stadium
A miserable stretch of baseball ended in embarrassing fashion. Houston, one of the worst teams in the American League, thumped the Royals for three consecutive days in their own ballpark. A day after this 9-3 defeat, hitting coach Pedro Grifol was demoted and replaced by Dale Sveum.
May 31: Aaron Brooks implodes
The Royals called upon Brooks to replace Yordano Ventura for one start. Brooks could not complete one inning. The Blue Jays thrashed him for seven runs and chased him with two outs in the first. The outing devastated the pitching staff, as Ned Yost emptied his bullpen to survive the day. The aftershocks rippled through the roster for days after the 12-2 defeat.
June 2: Gordon changes the conversation
The Royals limped into Busch Stadium after a dreadful May and a debilitating series in Toronto. The energy switched with a solo home run by Alex Gordon in the seventh inning of a 6-0 victory. The blast by Gordon snapped a scoreless deadlock, and cleared the space for Danny Duffy to cruise. Duffy returned from a case of dead arm to spin six scoreless innings.
June 17: A day in the first-place sun
The team’s 10-game winning streak coincided with a four-game series in Detroit. The Royals pounded Justin Verlander the day before. On this night, they clobbered reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, taking an 11-4 victory in the process and ascending to the top of the Central. Their reign was brief, but still sweet for players so accustomed to losing records.
July 18: Yost “outsmarted” in Boston
In the sixth inning of an eventual 5-4 Royals loss that would continue their pre-All-Star-break skid, Ned Yost called on lefty Scott Downs to protect a one-run lead. The problem was Downs can only hold down left-handed hitters, and the bullpen call triggered Boston manager John Farrell to pinch-hit Jonny Gomes, who blasted a two-run homer. “I outsmarted myself,” Yost said after the game.
July 22: Players-only meeting turns the tide
After a loss to White Sox ace Chris Sale the night before, the Royals fell two games below. 500. Whispers about Ned Yost’s job security intensified as general manager Dayton Moore flew to meet the team in Chicago. Amid the tumult, Raul Ibañez suggested a players-only meeting. Two critical themes emerged: the talent of the club, which Ibañez called the best he had seen in 18 big-league seasons, and the importance of personal accountability — players had become increasingly focused on their iPad games, including “Clash of Clans,” during their losing skid. The Royals won 16 of their next 19 games.
Aug. 11: First at last
The final out of a 3-2 victory over Oakland clutched in his glove, Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson completed a back flip. Along a catwalk near the team’s Hall of Fame in left field, SungWoo Lee, the club’s suddenly celebrated fan from South Korea, hoisted a victorious “W” sign. The screen high above center field relayed a message: “Your Kansas City Royals are now in first place …” the latest date the Royals led their division since Aug. 29, 2003.
Sept. 14: “Aaron Crow’s inning is the sixth”
Two days after falling out of first place for good, the Royals were beaten by the Red Sox 8-4 after Aaron Crow gave up a grand slam to Daniel Nava in the sixth inning while trying to protect a one-run lead. After the game, Ned Yost said he didn’t use Kelvin Herrera because “Aaron Crow’s inning is the sixth inning. Kelvin’s is the seventh.”
Sept. 26: Return to the postseason
At 9:51 p.m. on a gorgeous Friday night in Chicago, the final out of a 3-1 Royals victory settled in Salvador Perez’s glove, and a generation of waiting was over. The longest postseason drought in major North American sports ended. For the first time since Oct. 27, 1985, when Darryl Motley gloved the final out of the seventh game of the World Series, the Kansas City Royals were going to the playoffs.
30 days of postseason magic
The Royals’ postseason almost ended before it really got started. But after they survived an elimination game, the Royals became a late-night thrill machine in California and rolled to eight consecutive wins and a pennant. A tougher task awaited in the World Series against the Giants, but the Royals pushed the 2010 and 2012 champions to a deciding seventh game.
Sept. 30: AL Wild Card Game at Kauffman Stadium
Royals 9, Oakland 8, 12 innings
The Royals trailed 7-3, but rallied for extra innings with three runs in the eighth and one in the ninth. In the 12th, the Royals rallied again when Eric Hosmer tripled and scored on Christian Colon’s 45-foot chopper, tying the score, and won the game on Salvador Perez’s single that drove home Colon, marking KC’s first postseason victory since 1985.
Oct. 2: AL Division Series at Anaheim, Calif.
Royals 3, Angels 2, 11 innings
The Royals’ late-night theme continued as Mike Moustakas hit a go-ahead homer in the top of the 11th and Greg Holland, who arrived at the stadium during the game following the birth of his son, closed out the victory.
Oct. 3: AL Division Series at Anaheim, Calif.
Royals 4, Angels 1, 11 innings
Another night, another extra-inning home run, this time a two-run shot by Eric Hosmer as the Royals became the first team to win their first three games of a postseason in extra innings.
Oct. 5: AL Division Series at Kauffman Stadium
Royals 8, Angels 3
Alex Gordon hit a three-run double and Billy Butler stole a base — then mimicked Jarrod Dyson’s vroom-vrooom dance — as the Royals rolled to a sweep and into a matchup with the Baltimore Orioles for the American League pennant.
Oct. 10: AL Championship Series at Baltimore
Royals 8, Orioles 6, 10 innings
Gordon blasted a solo homer and Moustakas followed with a two-run shot in the 10th as the Royals won their fifth consecutive game to start the postseason and fourth in extra innings.
Oct. 11: AL Championship Series at Baltimore
Royals 6, Orioles 4
Alcides Escobar doubled in the go-ahead run in the ninth and Jarrod Dyson proclaimed the series would not return to Baltimore. “No sir, I don’t,” he said.
Oct. 14: AL Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium
Royals 2, Orioles 1
After an a off day and a rainout, the ALCS resumed in a game remembered most for Moustakas’ diving catch of a foul pop into the third-base dugout suite. He was saved from crashing against the concrete floor by the fans inside, who lifted him back onto the field.
Oct. 15: AL Championship Series at Kauffman Stadium
Royals 2, Orioles 1
The Royals won their first AL pennant since 1985 and set a major-league record with eight consecutive wins to start a postseason as Gordon made a crashing catch against the wall and Jason Vargas and the bullpen shut down the Orioles for the second straight night.
Oct. 21: World Series at Kauffman Stadium
Giants 7, Royals 1
The Royals’ first World Series game in 29 years did not start well as James Shields was knocked around early and Madison Bumgarner cruised for the Giants. The Royals’ overall postseason winning streak of 11 games, including three wins from 1985, fell one short of the major-league record.
Oct. 22: World Series at Kauffman Stadium
Royals 7, Giants 2
Omar Infante’s two-run homer put a cap on a five-run sixth inning and led to fireworks when Giants reliever Hunter Strickland mouthed off to Sal Perez, who wondered why Strickland was talking to him and not Infante, who hit the home run.
Oct. 24: World Series at San Francisco
Royals 3, Giants 2
Jeremy Guthrie entered the bottom of the sixth with a 3-0 lead, and while he got into early trouble, the Royals bullpen finished the job for a 2-1 series lead.
Oct. 25: World Series at San Francisco
Giants 11, Royals 4
A 4-1 lead going into the bottom of the third — after Jason Vargas walked to first on ball three and then was called out on strikes — wasn’t enough as the Giants scored 10 unanswered, one in the third, two in the fifth, three in the sixth and four in the seventh.
Oct. 26: World Series at San Francisco
Giants 5, Royals 0
Shields had a better start this time for the Royals but Bumgarner dominated KC’s offense again, posting a shutout that pushed the Giants to the brink of their third championship in five seasons.
Oct. 28: World Series at Kauffman Stadium
Royals 10, Giants 0
A seven-run second sets a franchise record for runs in a postseason inning, and Yordano Ventura throws seven scoreless innings as the Royals stay alive. Moustakas hits his fifth homer of the postseason, breaking Willie Aikens’ franchise record set in 1980.
Oct. 29: World Series at Kauffman Stadium
Giants 3, Royals 2
The Royals trailed by a run when Bumgarner entered the game in the fifth inning and, after Omar Infante led off with a hit, couldn’t do anything against him until Gordon lined a shot into center field with two outs in the ninth.
Gordon ended up at third after the ball was misplayed, but Salvador Perez popped out and the Giants won the game and another World Series title.