Just because Kansas City has seen this before, it’s not any less thrilling.
With their back against the wall, the Royals scored 5 in the eighth inning Monday and rallied to beat the Houston Astros 9-6.
The win prolongs the Royals’ season for another game. With the best-of-five American League Division Series tied at two games apiece, the Royals will host the do-or-die Game 5 at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday.
Down 6-2, the Royals turned the tide in the eighth inning with a flurry of hits, but were also aided by Astros miscues. After five Royals singled to start the inning, scoring two runs and loading the bases, Houston rookie phenom shortstop Carlos Correa misplayed what looked to be a double-play ball, allowing two more Royals to score and tie the game.
A groundout by Alex Gordon put the team on top, and a ninth-inning two-run homerun by Eric Hosmer sealed it.
The 12:07pm first-pitch meant a lot of long lunch breaks all over Kansas City. With Houston ahead 6-2 in the seventh, many turned back to work. But after the Royals went up, Ryan Rawley from Leawood, Kansas, was glad he stayed.
“I saw a bunch of people leaving and I could’ve gone back and done some work,” Rawley said after the game. “But anything could happen with the Royals. You never know. You can’t give up.”
Jenny Lee from Prairie Village, Kansas, said she’s heading to Wednesday’s game.
“My son will sleep well tonight. He would’ve been devastated had they lost,” Lee said. “But I would like to see them continue with the spirit and the spunk and what they had going on today, going forward.”
The dramatic comeback overshadowed strong pitching by both teams’ young starters. Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura allowed three runs and struck out eight in five innings. Houston rookie Lance McCullers struck out seven and allowed two runs in 6.1 innings.
Kansas City’s Johnny Cueto will take the mound Wednesday. Long one of baseball’s best starting pitchers, he was acquired in a midseason trade with Cincinnati with do-or-die playoff games in mind.
Houston’s Collin McHugh will start for the Astros. He allowed two runs in six innings, handing a loss to the Royals in Game 1.
“It’s just unbelievable that we have a chance to move on. Wednesday night is going to be huge,” Rawley said. “It has been a rollercoaster ride, ever since last year, I guess. And we’re just going to keep riding it out.”
Jeremy Bernfeld is the editor of KCUR's Harvest Public Media. Find him on Twitter @JeremyHPM.