This set of ten Moments commences with the most important wild pitch in franchise history, continues with a handful of iconic defensive plays, wraps up with a pair of game-icing home runs, and concludes with an event so unlikely it nearly broke the space-time continuum. And we still have 70 Moments to go.
Moment #: 80
Date: September 30, 2014
Game: 2014 Wild Card Game, vs. Oakland Athletics
Score: Oakland 7, Kansas City 5, Bottom of the 8th
Situation: One out, men on second and third
Matchup: Alex Gordon vs. Luke Gregerson
Result: Wild pitch, one run scores
Summary: In the midst of the Royals’ furious 8th-inning comeback in the Wild Card Game, Luke Gregerson throws a wild pitch to score a run and moving the tying run to third base with one out.
Link to video: Here.
When did I start to believe that the Royals not just could, but would, win the Wild Card Game? Probably around the time that Luke Gregerson bounced a slider to Alex Gordon in the dirt. Billy Butler had just singled to drive in the second run of the inning and bring the Royals to within two; Terrance Gore had pinch-run for Butler, and on the first pitch to Gordon, Gore stole second base (Moment #173) like it was nothing. Eric Hosmer was already on third base, so Gore represented the tying run, meaning that all the Royals had to do was bring home The Fastest Man In Baseball from scoring position.
And then Gregerson threw this slider too low and too inside, and Derek Norris let it bounce crazily off his glove, and Hosmer scored, and now The Fastest Man In Baseball was on third base with one out. It felt like destiny at that point. It felt like the Royals had all the momentum on their side. But as you know from the fact that I mentioned the word “momentum”, that’s not what happened at all. Gregerson walked Gordon, but rebounded to strike out Salvador Perez on three pitches (Gordon stole second base on the last of them), and then he struck out Omar Infante on four pitches. My faith was perhaps never tested more than it was at that moment, when a potentially historic four-run rally in the 8th inning of a double elimination game fell short because the Royals could not bring home Terrance Gore from third base with one out. (True story: after Perez struck out, I had such little confidence in the matchup between Infante and Gregerson that in the stands I was pushing for Gore to try to steal home. Come on: like you wouldn’t have wanted to see him try?)
Dying. Dying. All Gregerson does is throw sliders in the dirt. WHY DO WE HAVE TO SWING AT THEM— Rany Jazayerli (@jazayerli) October 1, 2014
But thanks to this wild pitch, the Royals exited the inning down only one run instead of two. And while Gore’s stolen base was ultimately in vain, the Royals had another ace baserunner up their sleeve.
(Also, just to cut off the protests in advance: Todd Worrell’s pitch in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series was scored as a passed ball, not a wild pitch.)