The dark clouds that appeared over Busch Stadium seemed appropriate given that the Royals were visiting.
It was May 30, 2013, and the Royals had lost three straight to the Cardinals, eight in a row and 12 of 13 overall. Earlier in the day, George Brett replaced hitting coach Jack Maloof on an interim basis as part of a coaching shakeup. Maloof and assistant Andre David were reassigned to jobs within the minor-league system before the game, while Pedro Grifol was named a special-assignment coach.
Ahead of the finale of a four-game home-and-home series with the St. Louis Cardinals, Ned Yost had a 219-282 record as Royals manager.
When Michael Wacha took the mound for his major-league debut on May 30, Cardinals fans thought little of the Royals.
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The game didn’t start well for the Royals. Wacha retired the first 13 batters and the Cardinals scored twice against Jeremy Guthrie in the first inning. Elliott Johnson’s RBI single scored Lorenzo Cain in the fifth inning, but it was a 2-1 game when the Royals came to bat in the ninth.
Storm clouds gathered as Jeff Francoeur stepped to the plate to face Mitchell Boggs. Frenchy crushed an 0-1 pitch to left that tied the game. Alex Gordon walked and Victor Marte entered the game. Alcides Escobar was hit by a pitch.
David Lough, who was batting third in the lineup (!), dropped a bunt that Marte misplayed, and the bases were loaded. Eric Hosmer followed with a two-run double that gave the Royals a 4-2 lead. Chris Getz pinch-hit for Louis Coleman and was intentionally walked to load the bases and then the sky opened up.
Lightning struck even the Gateway Arch during the delay.
The hope from the St. Louis perspective was that umpire Joe West would call the game, and the Royals’ rally would be wiped from the books. The Royals wanted to resume play.
When the rain finally stopped, the umpires intended to finish the game, and Royals fans were furious with the Cardinals’ grounds crew.
After four hours and 32 minutes, play resumed at 3:04 a.m. Miguel Tejada (!) hit into a double-play that effectively killed the Royals’ rally. But Greg Holland set the Cardinals down in order to end the game at 3:14 a.m.
A weary group of Royals arrived in Arlington, Texas, and lost the opener of the series before splitting the next two. But the Royals won their next four series and their fortunes began to change as they didn’t have a losing month the rest of the year.
There were still struggles in 2013, including a seven-game skid. But if you include the epic game in St. Louis, the Royals finished the 2013 season with a 65-47 record.
In 2014, the Royals finished 86-76 and advanced to the World Series. Last year, they won the World Series. The Cardinals and Royals have played 10 times since that game, with each side winning five times. Before that, the Cardinals had won 11 of 15 against the Royals.
But for Royals fans, life hasn’t been the same since that soggy night in St. Louis. And that’s a good thing.