Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Royals Wildcard Game Recap

Epic. Just an epic battle with an amazing outcome. A game 29 years in the making. Hopes dashed by the 7th inning. I wanted to go ahead and finish out the game to at least say I made it to the end. Man am I glad I did not turn the game off. With a 2.9% Win Expectancy heading into the 8th it was a long shot at best. The Royals kept scrapping and battling scoring 3 in the 8th. I thought at least they made it look respectable. At least they have a chance in the 9th.

Of course Holland did what Holland does and loads the bases in the Top of the 9th. He pitched his way out of a jam and we move to the Bottom of the 9th. Willingham gets a quick single to right to lead off the 9th and Dyson comes in to pinch run. Escobar lays down a bunt to advance Dyson to second. Then in one of the gutsiest calls of the night Dyson steals 3rd on an insanely close play:

Aoki steps to bat with 1 out down 6-7 bottom of the 9th and a guy on third. He hits a deep sacrafice fly to tie the game. The Leverage Index (LI) on that AB was a game-high tying 5.99. Huge hit by Aoki to send the game into extra innings. Here are the highlights of the entire crazy 9th inning.
In another gutsy move Yost decides to bring in Brandon Fennigan. Three months removed from pitching in the College World Series, Fennigan is brought in to pitch in the most important Royals game in 29 years, and the dude delivers. Fennigan is lights out in the 10th inning, Fly out, ground out, strike out. Boom Boom Boom. Hosmer gets the bottom of the 10th started good with a lead off single. Colon moves him over with a bunt (one of 4 sacrifice bunts of the night). Gordon grounds out and Hosmer moves to third. Salvador Perez walks to the plate with a chance to win it. The LI for Perez's AB is 4.57. Already having a poor night, 0-4,  at the plate (actually a poor entire month of September) Perez grounds out to second to go 0-5 on the night.

Fennigan comes back out in the 11th inning. Again this guy was in college 3 months ago. Strike out, ground out, single, strike out. Insane, start mass producing Brandon Fennigan jerseys. What a performance. Infante gets the bottom of the 11th started off with a lead off single. Dyson sacrifice bunts Omar to second. Escobar grounds out moving Omar to third. Then for some strange reason Yost pulls Aoki for Jayson Nix. Nix walks up with an LI of 4.57 and then promptly strikes out looking. The luck is running out at this point. The Royals have to finish this game soon.

And then boom, Top of the 12th inning Reddick reaches on a walk, followed by a sacrafice bunt from Lowrie to advance Reeick to second. Yost pulls Fennigan for Frasor. Frasor then throws a wild pitch and Reddick advances to third, followed by a single from former Royal Callaspo to give the A's a one run lead. At this point again I am thinking well we at least fought to the very end.

It looked pretty bleak in the bottom of the 12th as Cain grounded out to first for the first out. The Win Expectancy at this point is 10.1%. Hosmer steps to the plate and crushes a ball to left field. It is a foot from being a game tying Home Run.

Hosmer is on third with a stand up triple off the top of the wall. Incredible. Christian Colon walks up to the plate with an LI of a game-high tying 5.99. He slaps an infield single to tie the game.

 Then 0-5 Salavdor Perez walks up to the plate with a chance for redemption. Oakland calls a pitch out to try and stop Colon from stealing second, A's catch Norris does not catch it cleanly and Colon is in safe at Second. Pickoff Throw, Ball, Foul Ball, Swinging Strike, Pickoff Throw, Pitch Out (with the error), and then a Foul ball. So with the count 2-2 winning run on second, Salvador Perez slaps a single, on a pitch he shouldn't have swung at much less hit, down the left field line to drive in the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning. 

The Perez hit just sneaks past third baseman Donaldson. What a game. One of the wildest post season games I have ever seen. Double bonus it was on my birthday. Triple bonus it was the Royals first post season appearance in 29 years. Now the Royals move on to play a tough series with the Angels. Blue October has caught fire here in Kansas City.

Here are the top 15 plays based on highest Leverage Index. Leverage Index is a measure of the amount of pressure on a play based on the game situation. You can read more about it here: FanGraphs LI Definition

The Average Total LI for Royals game this season is 77.51. Last night's game had a season high Total LI of 195.5. What an exciting game. Go check out the FanGraphs Box score page for an in-depth view of the stats of the game, including this Win Probability Chart


  1. Ha! How very like you to rely on a graph and equations to tell you the game was exciting. =~) I just check my undershirt for excessive sweat stains.

    1. Roger that Eric. We should call that the Sweat Stain Index. I'd say it was at least a 6.5 SSI for the game last night.