MLB.com Columnist

Mike Bauman

Postseason comebacks? No sweat for Royals

Postseason comebacks? No sweat for Royals

HOUSTON -- The Royals play like they expect to come back from even the most difficult situations.

And why not? They already have.

Game Date Result
Gm 1 Oct. 8 HOU 5, KC 2
Gm 2 Oct. 9 KC 5, HOU 4
Gm 3 Oct. 11 HOU 4, KC 2
Gm 4 Oct. 12 KC 9, HOU 6
Gm 5 Oct. 14 KC 7, HOU 2

Game 2 of the American League Division Series against the Astros was a perfect example. The Royals were down from the first inning. By the sixth, they were down, 4-2.

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Kansas City was facing an 0-2 deficit in the best-of-five series and beyond that was looking directly at going to Houston for Game 3 to face Astros ace Dallas Keuchel, who is 15-0 at home this season, today at 4 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

It would have been an ideal time for a lesser team to panic, or at least to try to do too much at once. Not the Royals. They just kept punching opposite-field hits until they tied the game in the sixth, and then took a 5-4 lead for keeps in the seventh.

The lock-down Kansas City bullpen made life easier late in the game, but the Royals had pulled off a potentially series-turning comeback, built not on power, but on persistence.

They played like they had all the confidence in the world. Did they have that much confidence?

"Yeah," said catcher Salvador Perez with a smile. "I think last year after the Wild Card Game, we're down for four runs in the seventh inning, so we got a little experience, you know.

"And we just concentrated [in Game 2] to the last out. No matter what inning we are in, if we're down four runs, if we're up four runs, we need to play hard and finish the game."

That Wild Card Game was an obvious turning point for the Royals. Trailing, 7-3, against Jon Lester and the Athletics, Kansas City came back to win in extra innings. The Royals went on to win eight straight postseason games in their march to the World Series.

"Really, it was a dramatic shift in confidence and belief in their ability, after the Wild Card Game," manager Ned Yost said on Saturday after his Royals worked out at Minute Maid Park. "You know, we're down four in the eighth against Jon Lester and we came back from that.

"And from that point on, the belief has been there that, 'Hey, we can come back from anything. We can come back from one game down in a five-game series. We came back from a 3-0 [deficit] early in the game.'

"I mean, as a manager that makes the game so much more fun, because they know what they're capable of doing. And you just sit back and let 'em go. They've got the confidence that we can get this thing done."

So regardless of how difficult the Game 1 loss might have been against Houston, the Royals showed up for Game 2 with a comprehensive confidence.

"You know, every day is a different day," said Perez, who contributed a solo homer and a game-tying, bases-loaded walk in Game 2. "Come to the ballpark, and play hard and try to win the game. But whatever happens that day is over. You just need to come into the next day, concentrate again, and try to win that day. Every game is important right now. So you need to play hard every day and we'll see what happens."

Yost on Royals' approach

Yost was asked on Saturday about how much difference it made to be 1-1 in this best-of-five series, as opposed to two games down, facing Keuchel in a potential elimination game. Yost acknowledged that the difference was "huge," but he also added this:

"It goes back to our confidence as a team. I don't feel like our team ever feels like they're out of anything. If we didn't win [Game 2], I still feel that our club would have felt like, 'Hey, it's a five-game series. Whoever wins three games wins, and we still have three games left.'"

Coming into the 2014 postseason, the Royals were regarded as newcomers, upstarts. With a stunning postseason run last year, and the American League's best record this year, they have earned all the confidence they want.

Mike Bauman is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.