These plays are not so memorable that you probably remember them all. But they are memorable enough that you probably should.
Moment #: 190
Date: October 12, 2015
Game: 2015 ALDS Game 4, @ Houston Astros
Score: Kansas City 2, Houston 6, Bottom of the 7th
Situation: One out, men on second and third
Matchup: Luis Valbuena vs. Ryan Madson
Result: Flyout to left field, runners hold
Summary: With the season seemingly lost anyway, Ryan Madson stops the bleeding. Not that it really mattered. Right?
Link to video: Here.
You can go get him now, Ned. No, really.— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 12, 2015
Down 4 runs headed to the 8th inning of an elimination game. Hmm. I'm not saying I'm hopeful, but I'm not turning off the TV or anything.— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 12, 2015
This very moment represents the nadir of the Royals’ odds of winning a world championship in 2015. Most everyone remembers that the Royals had the tying run on second base in the top of the 7th with one out, and Terrance Gore stole third base with room to spare, only to be called out on review because his foot may have come off the bag for a split second as he bounced up (possibly because Luis Valbuena pushed him ever so slightly, and in any case on replay it’s not clear that Valbuena’s glove was in contact with Gore’s body for that split second). And most everyone remembers that after the Royals’ rally fizzled, the Astros seemingly put away the game, and the series, in the bottom of the inning, when Carlos Correa homered off Ryan Madson with a man aboard to make it 5-2, and Colby Rasmus followed with his 37th home run of the postseason.
What most do not remember, however, is that after Correa and Rasmus went back-to-back, Madson allowed a single to Evan Gattis, and then a single to Carlos Gomez, on which pinch-runner Jake Marisnick advanced to third base, with Gomez moving up to second on the throw. And yet after allowing the last four batters to go homer-homer-single-single, Ryan Madson stayed in the game. Maybe Ned Yost was having one of his genius moments. Or maybe he was thinking about how to congratulate the Astros after the game, and forgot to pull Madson. Or maybe he just gave up.
We’ll call it genius. Because at that moment, the Royals’ odds of winning the game were about 1.6% – translating to 1 in 60 – which means their odds of winning the World Series were about 1 in 500. The Royals had six outs left and trailed by four, but they were about to trail by five or six. Instead, Madson got Luis Valbuena to hit a shallow fly ball to left field, much too shallow for Marisnick to even think about tagging against Alex Gordon. Madson would then strike out Marwin Gonzalez on three pitches to get out of the inning. The Royals’ odds of winning the game had doubled to 3.2%, or to two snowballs’ chances in hell.
But that’s the thing about these Royals. You give them a snowball’s chance, and they’ll run with it. You give them two snowballs’ chances, and you might as well pack it in right then and there. The Astros left the Royals the tiniest crack in the wall to escape from. The Royals did the rest.