Playoff baseball returned to Kansas City on Tuesday and it was a game for the ages! We take a look at the pictures, from Eric Hosmer’s game-tying run to Salvador Perez lacing a walk-off hit down the third base line and the celebration that ensued after Christian Colon crossed home plate. Here’s the first post with more to follow:
Kansas City will look to follow its first postseason berth in 29 years with its first playoff victory since that legendary 1985 season when the club opens the 2014 postseason with a Wild Card matchup against Oakland at Kauffman Stadium this evening.
The Royals will do so with ace James Shields on the mound and a bullpen armed and ready with the usual suspects, along with starters Danny Duffy, Yordano Ventura, and Jeremy Guthrie.
“You’ve got to always cover yourself,” said Yost. “You never know when a line drive might hit someone in the elbow, when a line drive might hit someone in the shin. You’ve got to have coverage with length. Jeremy Guthrie, that’s going to be his spot. If something happens early, Jeremy’s there to pick up the slack. If we get into the 12th inning and we’ve used all our pitchers, Jeremy’s a guy that can take the game as far as it needs to go until we can win it.
“With Duffy and Ventura, you know, we’ve built our bullpen around power all year long, and as we all know, both of those kids have power arms. So we looked at both of those guys. If we need to mix and match an inning in the fifth or the sixth, we’ve got power arms that we can do it with.”
Oakland will counter with Jon Lester, whom the A’s acquired in a blockbuster deadline deal with Boston.
“You look at his numbers, since he’s been with Oakland, the most runs he’s given up is three,” said Yost. “So, you’re not going to go out, and, if you think you’re going to score six or seven runs and knock him out early, that’s probably not going to happen. So you have to be focused in your approach. You have to drive the ball up the middle or the other way. If he makes a mistake, hopefully we can jump on it and put a ball in the gap. But you’re going to have to try to manufacture runs, I think, one at a time, and see if we can stack enough up to get us to the seventh and eighth inning and one of our power guys can come into the game and hold them.”
According to Yost, given the pitching matchup and the strength of each team’s respective bullpen, there is an inherent premium on the first run of the game.
“It’s all important for both starters,” he said. “Jon Lester has pitched in many, many postseason games. James Shields has earned the nickname Big Game James for a reason. Both of these guys, when they get the lead, it makes it more difficult to try to catch up. It’s important that you can go out and try to put a run or two on the board first for Shields and see if you can’t tack on from there.”
If the Royals have developed a reputation for struggling in front of packed houses, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by their manager. Yost said that he’s noticed some pressing, but that the team has used each experience to grow comfortable with the limelight down the stretch.
“You have to be in those situations in order for them to become routine,” he said. “And the more situations that you’re in, the easier it is to handle them. Now, the last two weeks of the season, we’ve been through that. It’s starting to get more and more routine. That’s just experience. Every game that we play, every high-leverage, high-caliber game that we play just adds to that experience a little more and they understand how to handle it. If you go in the locker room right now, which none of you guys can do, it’s a real loose locker room.”
Yost, who served as a coach under Hall of Fame manager Bobby Cox in Atlanta from 1991-’02, spoke to the former Braves skipper on Sunday. The beneficiary of extensive postseason exposure as a result of his tenure under Cox, Yost said that, among the keys to winning in the playoffs, a manager has to trust his players to rise to the occasion, and be prepared to adjust on the fly.
“You just play the game,” he said. “You go out and trust your players, and like Dayton said before, they’re all ready to go. But the difference in this game, if we win or lose, is that they’ve got to perform. We all believe that they’re going to perform. You just go at it. From the first pitch on, you’re watching, you’re looking, you try to formulate your plan from the fifth, the sixth, the seventh inning. Just go play it and adjust accordingly to what happens.”
Yost said the postseason is unlike Opening Day or any other aspect of the regular season.
“Oh, it doesn’t compare,” he said. “This is what you live for. Opening Day, you’re glad to get going. You spent a whole winter preparing for Opening Day, but you know in the back of your mind, man, that you’ve got 162 games to go. You know the grind that’s set before you. Now, this is something that is special. In Atlanta, spring training and Opening Day was just, okay, let’s play these games so we can get to the postseason. It was almost mundane. That’s where the season started, in the postseason.
“We’ve been fighting hard for the last five years to get to this point. But this is where it starts, right here. You have an opportunity to further your team into the playoffs. It’s a special time and everybody knows it. These games are kind of crazy. I’ve never been through a one-game elimination. But you still try to take it like it’s a game, but you know what’s back there if you don’t win it. So your focus has to be on everything you can do to win this ball game. If it’s a quick hook or we need to make a defensive replacement or we need to pinch hit, you do it because there’s no tomorrow.”
By Kolby Paxton
Tuesday’s game to air on TBS, FOX Sports Kansas City to televise postgame shows after Royals playoff games
Tomorrow’s Wild Card game will air exclusively on TBS. In addition, FOX Sports Kansas City, the TV home of the Royals, continues its coverage during the playoffs with postgame shows after every postseason game.
Ryan Lefebvre will host Boulevard Royals Live with analysis from Rex Hudler and Jeff Montgomery and reporting from Joel Goldberg.
FOX Sports Kansas City’s coverage starts immediately after the game. Following Tuesday’s Wild Card game, the show will originate from Rivals Sports Bar at Kauffman Stadium.
In the Royals TV territory, cable TV subscribers will find the show on FOX Sports Kansas City, and satellite subscribers will see Tuesday’s show on DirecTV channel 671 and Dish channel 418.
Royals beat writer Jeffrey Flanagan leads FOX Sports Kansas City’s online coverage at FOXSportsKansasCity.com.
Yes, we’ve been quiet during all of the playoff excitement…that’s because we were in Chicago, enjoying the clinch in person! We’re as excited as you for tomorrow’s game. Here are a few pictures that we took on Friday night (the White Sox did a great job with scoreboard salutes and in holding off their fireworks show to let the Royals celebrate). Go Royals, #TakeTheCrown!
With a tiebreaker scenario in which the Royals host a game to determine the American League Wild Card winners still plausible, the Kansas City Royals have announced that tickets for a potential tiebreaker game at Kauffman Stadium will go on sale to the general public on Wednesday, September 24. If a tiebreaker is necessary between the Royals and Detroit Tigers to determine the A.L. Central Division title, that game will be held in Detroit.
A limited number of tickets for a tiebreaker game that may take place at Kauffman Stadium will be available for sale beginning at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available at http://www.royals.com/postseason, by phone at 1-800-6ROYALS and at area Hy-Vee locations. Please note that tickets will NOT be available at the Kauffman Stadium Box Office.
The dates, times and locations for possible tiebreaker games are yet to be determined. In the event that a tiebreaker game is not necessary and, therefore, not played, all single-game purchases for that game will be refunded. No refunds will be issued for played games for any reason. The ticket holder will also receive a refund of the per ticket convenience fee. However, per order processing/shipping and handling fees are non-refundable.
Fans who purchase tiebreaker tickets at any of the area Hy-Vee locations must retain their tickets for a refund in the event that the game isn’t played. The tickets will need to be returned in person to the Kauffman Stadium Box Office or mailed to the Royals along with a ticket refund form that will be included in the ticket purchase at Hy-Vee. For those fans purchasing online or by phone, refunds will be credited back to the card on which the tickets were purchased.
Please note that ticket strips for the 2014 Postseason that were previously made available for season ticket holders to purchase include a ticket for a potential tiebreaker game. This ticket is identified as “Tiebreaker Game 1” in the 2014 Postseason ticket strip.
Ticket pricing for all playoff rounds, including potential tiebreaker games, will vary, and all prices are set in conjunction with Major League Baseball.
Manager Ned Yost knows the importance of today’s game with the Detroit Tigers. Yost knows the big swing between being three a half games behind and one a half behind the division lead with a week to play. “We gotta go out and get this one,” he said.
Kansas City will continue to need production from the recently revamped top of the lineup of Alcides Escobar and Nori Aoki. Yost has juggled the middle of the order a bit with Eric Hosmer, Billy Butler, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez in that sequence batting behind Lorenzo Cain, who returns today and bats third after not playing in Saturday’s game. Yost said he’s trying to find a middle-of-the-order guy to get hot.
As for the ups and downs of a pennant chase, the Royals, despite an agonizing defeat Saturday, are enjoying the ride.
“It’s fun,” Yost said. “It’s the old wide world of sports adage; the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. You win and you’re on top of the world, you lose and you’re in agony for 12 hours until you can come back to the park. It’s a lot of fun playing in this type of atmosphere, playing for these stakes. That’s what you work hard for.”
What they are working hard for is not just a playoff appearance but a run at a World Series title.
“It’s been our goal for a long, long time,” Yost said. “Develop a team that is playoff capable of winning a championship. That’s our goal and that’s what [this group] is trying to accomplish.”
By Nate Rowan
After Friday night’s 10-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers dropped the Kansas City Royals a game and half behind in the American League Central and left three teams, including KC, within a game of each other for two A.L. Wild Card spots it would appear the Royals are in desperate need for a big game from someone who’s been in these kinds of games before. Say, Big Game James Shields, for instance, who toes the the rubber for Kansas City in hopes of pulling the Royals within a half game of the division lead and putting the pressure on Oakland and Seattle, who play later today. While it may not be one, these games this weekend feel like playoff games and Shields has six postseason starts under his belt. For manager Ned Yost, Shields is the guy he wants in this spot.
“It’s huge to be able to have that, to have that playoff experience and have that ability to step up in a big game,” Yost said. “That’s his nickname [Big Game]. And he’s shown why he’s gotten that nickname, just for us, even in these last three or four starts. He’s stopped losing streaks and helped us win ballgames that we really needed to win.”
“[I] couldn’t ask for anybody else on the mound today.”
Looking at last night with optimism would show that the back end of Kansas City’s bullpen is in great shape. With the off day, Kelvin Herrera hasn’t pitched in three days while Wade Davis and Greg Holland have worked in two. If Shields can give the Royals at least 6.0 innings this afternoon, Yost will have all of his weapons out of the bullpen at his disposal.
By Nate Rowan
Today’s game is on FOX (WDAF in KC). Here’s a look at the Dish Network numbers through game 162, with all games on FSKC:
Saturday, September 20: FOX
Sunday, September 21: Dish 440 or 412-28
Monday, September 22: Dish 441 or 412-29
Tuesday, September 23: Dish 442 or 412-30
Wednesday, September 24: Dish 441 or 412-29
Thursday, September 25: Dish 441 or 412-29
Friday, September 26: Dish 442 or 412-30
Saturday, September 27: Dish 442 or 412-30
Sunday, September 28: Dish 441 or 412-29
It’s been a long time since Kansas City experienced such a meaningful series at home this late into September but the Royals find themselves a half game behind Detroit for the AL Central lead and the Tigers are in town for a three-game series to conclude KC’s regular season home schedule. A lot can happen this weekend regarding playoff positioning and with 11 games remaining (including the suspended game that will be finished in Cleveland), this city, its fans and the team knows the importance of these games.
“Today we got a chance to take care of our own destiny,” Yost said. “We haven’t seen a series like this in Kansas City in a long, long time. It’s going to be exciting.”
Standing room only tickets are all that remains this weekend, meaning it’s possible over 100,000 fans file through the Kauffman Stadium turnstiles. Despite a 4-9 record at home with crowds over 30,000 this season, Yost believes his team can use the energy to their advantage.
“Big crowds are going to be a benefit to us, that’s why it’s home field advantage when you got a stadium full of people cheering for you,” Yost said. “I think it’s going to be fun, [the players] are going to embrace it.”
Yost will continue to stick with a similar lineup tonight against Detroit’s Justin Verlander. Billy Butler, who has had his struggles recently, will bat seventh at the designated hitter.
“It wasn’t even a thought,” Yost said regarding a question about Butler being in the lineup. “Billy’s had great numbers against Verlander for a long, long time. In the game the other night against Sale he ended up with a double down the right-field line and sometimes it just takes that one hit to allow you to exhale and relax a little bit and get you on track.”
Billy is 34-for-82 (.415) with five doubles, two home runs and 15 RBI against Verlander and has more plate appearances (92) against him than any other pitcher.
By Nate Rowan