Most experts expected a pitcher's duel between Royals ace James Shields and A's ace Jon Lester. Instead, fans were treated to a wild, dramatic finish.
Royals catcher Salvador Perez delivered with a game-winning RBI single in the 12th inning, and the Kansas City Royals outlasted the Oakland Athletics, 9-8, in the American League Wild Card game.
The Oakland A's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first when A's designated hitter Brandon Moss slammed a James Shields changeup into the right field seats. It was the beginning of a special night for Moss, who would play a prominent role in the game.
The Royals took the lead in the third inning on an RBI double from Lorenzo Cain and an RBI single from Eric Hosmer.
While the good vibes were flowing in Kansas City, the Oakland A's had different thoughts. The A's led off the sixth inning with a single from pesky Sam Fuld and a walk to Josh Donaldson. The Royals went to the bullpen and plucked Yordano Ventura.
Ventura served up a meatball and Brandon Moss slammed a three-run shot to center to give the A's the 5-3 advantage. Derek Norris and Coco Crisp followed with RBI singles, and the A's took a commanding 7-3 lead with their ace still on the bump. Moss finished the evening with two homers and five RBI's.
With the score 7-3 in the bottom of the eighth, Kansas City began their comeback. Alcides Escobar singled, and promptly stole second. Lorenzo Cain singled to center, driving in Escobar and Eric Hosmer followed with a walk.
The A's went to the bullpen and grabbed ace setup man, Luke Gregerson. The Royals used speedy Terrance Gore as a pinch-runner for Butler, and Gore stole 2nd immediately. Kansas City scored another run, when Gregerson through a wild pitch with Alex Gordon at the plate, scoring Hosmer. Gordon later drew a walk.
With runners at the corner's, Gregerson struck out Salvador Perez on three straight sliders and ended the inning by striking out Omar Infante.
Oakland entered the ninth with a one-run lead, and they turned to their closer, Sean Doolittle. The Royals used Josh Willingham as a pinch-hitter to lead off the ninth. Willingham dumped a single into right, and Kansas City was in business. The Royals brought in Jarrod Dyson to run for Willingham, and he advanced to 2nd on a bunt.
In one of the more pivotal moments of the game, Dyson stole third base, and scored on a Nori Aoki sacrifice fly. The flyout ended the inning, but not before the Royals tied up the score.
In extra innings, the A's were introduced to Royals rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan. Finnegan, who was pitching in college in May, mowed down the A's lineup in the 10th, which gave the hometown nine a chance to win in extras.
Eric Hosmer opened the bottom of the tenth with an infield single. After a sacrifice bunt, Doolittle was able to induce feeble grounders to end the inning.
In the 11th, Finnegan continued his brilliance, retiring the first two hitters of the inning, before allowing a single to Josh Donaldson. Brandon Moss had a chance to be a hero once more, but instead was dispatched on a strikeout to end the frame.
Once again in the bottom of the 11th, the Royals got the leadoff man on, when Omar Infante singled. After another sacrifice bunt, Alcides Escobar grounded out, and Jayson Nix struck out looking.
Finnegan returned for the 12th, and walked Josh Reddick to end the inning. Jed Lowrie sacrificed Reddick to 2nd, and the Royals brought in veteran Jason Frasor to take over for Finnegan.
After a wild pitch, A's infielder Alberto Callaspo singled to left to give the A's the 8-7 lead in the 12th inning. Frasor was able to stop the bleeding by retiring Derek Norris on a strikeout and Nick Punto on a pop-up.
The Royals had one last change in the 12th to keep the classic game going. A's reliever Dan Otero retired Lorenzo Cain on a groundout to start the inning. With one out, Eric Hosmer hit a smash deep to left-center. Both A's left fielder Johnny Gomes and center fielder Sam Fuld attempted to make leaping catches at the wall, but both failed. When the dust settled, Hosmer was at third on a one-out triple.
Royals infielder Christian Colon tied the game on an infield RBI single, and Alex Gordon followed with a pop-up into foul territory. Christian Colon got himself into scoring position by stealing second. Salvador Perez, who was hitless in his first five at-bats, roped a single down the left field line to score Colon.
After over four hours, the Royals won the first playoff game in Kauffman Stadium since 1985. Kansas City used a barrage of timely hitting, seven stolen bases, and small ball to advance in the playoffs. The Kansas City Royals will battle the Los Angeles Angels in the Division Series.