Royals return to site of wild ALDS comeback

Royals return to site of wild ALDS comeback

HOUSTON -- The Royals certainly have had their fair share of famous and improbable comebacks in the postseason the past two years.

Perhaps none -- not even the crazy 2014 American League Wild Card Game -- was more unlikely than the Royals' rally from a 6-2 deficit against the Astros in Game 4 of the AL Division Series last season.

Just six outs from elimination in the best-of-five series, the Royals scored five times in the eighth inning and went on to a 9-6 win, forcing a Game 5, which they also won.

The Astros had scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to build a 6-2 lead, but Royals delivered five straight singles to open the eighth, pulling them within two runs before an out was recorded.

"Alex Rios led off with a hit," Royals manager Ned Yost said before Monday's 8-2 loss to the Astros, "and the first thing that went through my mind was: 'Here we go.'"

A crucial play occurred when Kendrys Morales came to the plate with the bases loaded, none out and the Royals down, 6-4. Morales sent a hard grounder up the middle that deflected off left-hander Tony Sipp's glove and headed toward shortstop Carlos Correa, who seemed poised to execute a huge double play.

But the ball, which had major top spin on it, skipped up and past Correa into center field. Two runs scored, tying the game, and Correa was charged with an error.

Royals tie game in 8th on error

"If it wouldn't have nicked the pitcher's glove, it would have been a base hit," Morales said through interpreter Pedro Grifol. "I thought the spin of it kind of brought the ball back up to [Correa's] face, and that's why he didn't catch it."

Jarrod Dyson pinch-ran for Morales and stole second, but Sipp struck out Mike Moustakas after a long duel.

That brought up Royals catcher Drew Butera, who was in the game because Terrance Gore had pinch-ran for Salvador Perez the inning before.

"I remember I just wanted to find a way to get the job done and get on base," Butera recalled. "We had a base open and Gordo [Alex Gordon] was behind me. I didn't want to make an out and have them walk Gordo."

After a 10-pitch at-bat, Butera drew a walk, loading the bases. And Gordon followed with an RBI ground-out and the Royals had the lead 7-6.

Yost on Drew Butera's at-bat

Biggest at-bat of Butera's career?

"It was definitely up there, especially because of the magnitude of the game and the situation we were in at that time," Butera said. "I could see it being the most important at-bat of my career."

Morales remembered the bench going nuts after Butera's walk and Gordon's groundout.

"Obviously it was a do-or-die game," Morales said, "and we all just tried to keep things alive."

Added Butera, "It was the whole 'keep the line moving.' We did."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.