The Royals may have missed the playoffs by a country mile, but their former players popped up in some key moments in Tuesday night’s National League Wild Card Game.
The Rockies won 2-1 in 13 innings thanks in part to former Royals closer Wade Davis working out of a jam in the eighth inning and preserving a tie. Davis was pitching to his batterymate from the deciding fifth game of the 2015 World Series: Drew Butera.
Butera came on as part of a double switch in the seventh inning and soon after was called for a rare catcher’s interference with two outs. That allowed the Cubs to load the bases. However, Adam Ottavino struck out Jason Heyward to end the threat.
In the top of the eighth inning, Butera walked but was forced out on a double play. It was a close play at second and required a review:
The Cubs trailed 1-0 at that point. Former Royals outfielder Terrance Gore changed that. With two outs, he came on as a pinch runner and stole second. Gore’s elite speed was on display and Butera didn’t even attempt a throw. When Javy Baez followed with a double, Gore ran even faster, reaching 32.3 feet per second while scoring the tying run:
Davis was summoned by Rockies manager Bud Black (a former Royals pitcher) and Davis struck out Albert Almora Jr., which kept the game tied at 1-1. In what should be of no surprise to Cubs fans, Davis showed little emotion as he left the mound.
In the 10th inning, Butera popped out to Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist, a hero from the Royals’ 2015 championship team. Zobrist also played right field and left field in the game.
After the Rockies strung together three two-out singles in the 13th inning against Kyle Hendricks and took the lead, the Cubs called on former Royal Jorge De La Rosa, who got the final out to end the inning.
Gore had another big moment in the bottom of the 13th inning when the Cubs believed he was hit by a pitch:
Gore instead faced a 3-2 count and struck out, and so did Baez and Almora, ending the game.
Zobrist had a single in six at-bats for the Cubs, while Gore was 0 for 2 with the stolen base and a run scored. Butera was also 0 for 2, but he drew a walk. Davis pitched 1 1/3 innings.
Davis, Butera and the Rockies advanced to a division series where they’ll face the Brewers ... whose roster is full of former Royals: Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Joakim Soria, Erik Kratz, Manny Pina and Jeremy Jeffress.
The Royals may not be in the postseason, but Kansas City fans certainly have plenty of reasons to watch.