COLUMBIA — Before Gary Pinkel’s weekly press conference started Monday inside the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex, all eyes were glued to cell phones and laptops as the Royals’ incredible eighth-inning comeback unfolded in Houston.
The Royals trailed 6-2 as media and MU staff gathered to hear Pinkel’s thoughts about his team and the upcoming Georgia game at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga.
Minutes after Carlos Correa’s error on a Kenrdys Morales grounder tied it, Pinkel stepped to the podium.
“Good afternoon, everybody,” Pinkel began. “Let’s make sure we keep or priorities right today. Let’s find out what’s happening with the Royals here.”
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During Pinkel’s 20-minute Q&A, the Royals pulled in front 7-6. The scene then moved into the MATC’s foyer, where two televisions were tuned to Fox Sports 1 as Royals closer Wade Davis trotted to the mound.
When Eric Hosmer blasted a two-run home run into the Astros’ bullpen, the Tigers’ media relations director (and unabashed, unapologetic Royals fan), Chad Moller, skipped about like a child on Christmas.
Columbia, which sits at roughly the midpoint between Kansas City and St. Louis on Interstate 70, has long been a Redbirds stronghold, but the Royals postseason run last season gave blue-clad baseball fans a reason for to thump puffed-out chests.
Senior center Evan Boehm — a Lee’s Summit West graduate, who has thrown out the first pitch at Kauffman Stadium on Mizzou Day — appeared from the weight room wearing a new, bright blue Royals hat.
He stuck around, mostly beaming, through the final out.
With the Royals up 9-6 and Davis throwing BBs in the ninth, freshman quarterback Drew Lock, a Lee’s Summit graduate, gave an interview with his back to the bank of TVs — at least until the final out settled into Paulo Orlando’s glove.
Lock, who was digesting a question about being on the same page with his receivers (and prompted by a certain Kansas City-based reporter), paused to glanced back at one of the screens: “Well, that’s a good sign,” he said with a smile.
Later, he was asked the question all Royals fans are considering today — which was the more unlikely* and spectacular comeback, the 2014 AL Wild Card Game or yesterday’s win in Game 4 of the 2015 AL Division Series?
“I would have to say the Wild Card, because I was at the Wild Card game, which was pretty fun,” Lock said. “That was a cool experience, so I would say Wild Card. This one was pretty close to it.”
There you go, Drew Lock has spoken.
* The Royals’ win expectancy against the Athletics bottomed out at 2.9 percent at the end of the seventh in last season’s Wild Card Game, while the Astros’ win expectancy was at 98.4 percent on Monday after Carlos Gomez’s one-out single put two runners in scoring position with a 6-2 lead, according to FanGraphs.