The Royals had been struggling, and things didn't look to be improving. Losing ground to the Detroit Tigers in a tight AL Central division race, barely clinging to the AL's second wild card spot, they were down to their final out on Monday night, trailing the lowly Chicago White Sox by a run, and staring at their sixth loss in eight games.
That's when things got weird and wild. With Nori Aoki at the dish and speedster Jarrod Dyson in scoring position at second base, Dyson inexplicably broke for third. A split-second later, White Sox closer Jake Petricka's 1-0 offering bounced in the dirt. Before you could blink, Dyson was diving into home and the game was tied.
Then Aoki, who has the lowest extra-base hit rate of all Royals everyday starters, hit a double to left. He was replaced by a pinch runner: 5-foot-7, 23-year-old rookie Terrance Gore, who had appeared in exactly three major league games since being promoted as part of the Royals' roster-expansion at the beginning of September.
Up stepped Lorenzo Cain...
With the dramatic win, the Royals improved to 82-67, and remain a game and a half back of the Tigers (who beat the Minnesota Twins despite blowing a six-run lead). They also clinched their second consecutive winning season, a feat they had not accomplished since 1993-94.
Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/John Rieger