Royals captivate KC with rollicking World Series run

Yost's bunch reels off eight straight postseason wins in one of 2014's top feel-good stories

Royals captivate KC with rollicking World Series run

The Kansas City Royals did so much in 2014.

They reminded us of the importance of teamwork, showed us the value of defense and displayed to the baseball world the game-altering potential of a bullpen.

They made the little things big. They sometimes defied convention and as a result found themselves defying critics. They stuck together, played for one another, won big and even picked up the tab at the bar for their fans during their amazing postseason run.

Alas, the only thing the Royals did not do was win the World Series. But in experiencing their first October and first pennant in 29 years, after one of the most improbable and enjoyable playoff runs in history and taking the San Francisco Giants to the ninth inning of Game 7 in the Fall Classic before bowing out with dignity and class, this whirlwind of a year will go down in the books as one enormous accomplishment, one sturdy steppingstone and one heck of a fun memory.

"The hard part about this is that you work all year to climb to the top of the mountain, and then, boom, you fall back and you've got to start right back at the bottom again next year," Royals manager Ned Yost said in the aftermath of the Game 7 loss.

"But we've gained a ton of experience. I don't think I've ever been as proud of anything in my life as I have been of this team and the way they performed this postseason. It was just fantastic."

Royals celebrate season at The K

The Royals' stunning season began with promise after finishing 2013 with a record of 86-76. It wasn't good enough to qualify for the postseason, but it was a symbolic benchmark: the first winning season for the franchise in 10 years.

General manager Dayton Moore beefed up the starting rotation with the additions of Jason Vargas and Jeremy Guthrie, the team decided to go with hard-throwing rookie Yordano Ventura in the rotation, and the late-inning bullpen trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland began to take dominant shape early.

The Royals had their ups and down throughout the year, but the team found itself in October and on its home field of Kauffman Stadium for the first time since the club's World Series title of 1985. It was the American League Wild Card Game against the Oakland A's, and it was one for the ages.

The Royals fell behind the A's and pitcher Jon Lester by a score of 7-3 after seven innings. But they rallied, scored three times in the eighth, tied the score at 7-7 in the ninth, and when the A's took an 8-7 lead in the 12th inning, the Royals battled back again, scoring twice in the bottom of the 12th to win, keyed by Eric Hosmer's triple.

Hosmer's 12th-inning triple

"Guys were coming in and screaming in the dugout: 'We are not losing this game, we are winning this game!" Yost said. "Let's go, let's get on base. This is not going to happen, not tonight, this is not happening. Let's go, boys.'"

And off they went.

They won seven more games in a row (a postseason record) and claimed the pennant. Off to the World Series they went, beginning right there on the Kauffman diamond.

The season ended in the bottom of the ninth in Game 7, with Alex Gordon 90 feet away from scoring the tying run and the unhittable Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner on the mound, sealing his own place in baseball lore.

But that was just 2014. Royals fans have to think there's a lot more of this story to be written.

Doug Miller is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @DougMillerMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.