Rain had started to fall at Kauffman Stadium as the echoing roars finally faded into the night. Eric Hosmer popped out of the dugout one last time, looked to the sky and let it soak in.
It had been 29 years since the Royals played a post-season game — nearly three decades spent mostly as a laughingstock. But on Tuesday night, already drenched in victory champagne, the young first baseman felt as if the whole world had watched their coming-out party.
“This team showed a lot of character tonight,” Hosmer said. “We weren’t going to quit.”
Salvador Perez singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th inning, capping two late comebacks that gave Kansas City a thrilling 9-8 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the American League wild-card game. (Photos: Ed Zurga/Getty Images, Jeff Roberson/The Associated Press, Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Casey Janssen pitched one last perfect ninth inning, but this was not a save opportunity. It was a rave opportunity, and the fans delivered.
The Blue Jays closer came in to pitch the final frame of the season, and likely the last of his Toronto career, with his team trailing Baltimore 1-0. It took him six pitches to retire the side. Before each one, he held his glove in front of his chin and rocked from one foot to the other and blew out a big breath, just as he has done thousands of times in his eight-season career.
His job done, he walked off the mound, head down as usual, until the cheers started. Then he looked up and saw the fans standing and clapping. He waited a moment or two, and then he waved and soaked it all in.
“Gibby [manager John Gibbons] talked to me before the game and he said, ‘We’re thinking about giving you the ninth inning so the fans can honour you,’” Janssen said after that 1-0 score held up and the Jays finished 83-79. “I was like, ‘Really, you think they’re going to honour me?’
Photos courtesy of Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press;
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
'You can’t even dream this stuff up': Derek Jeter had a hard time stepping into the batter’s box in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the fans over the past two weeks and all the final moments at home in a 20-season career, the always cool captain of the Yankees was about to break down.
“I almost started crying driving here today,” Jeter said Thursday night after New York’s 6-5 win over Baltimore. “I think I’ve done a pretty good job of controlling my emotions throughout the course of my career. … Today I wasn’t able to do it.”
What he was able to do was give New York one more amazing moment in a career full of them, driving in the winning run in the ninth with — what else? — an opposite-field single to right field.
Even though he was playing the first game of his career at Yankee Stadium with the team eliminated from the playoff race, Jeter leaped high with both arms raised after touching first base and was embraced by his teammates.
The 14-time All-Star then lingered on the field, seemingly not wanting to give up the only job he ever hoped to have — shortstop for the New York Yankees. (Photos: Elsa/Getty Images, Al Bello/Getty Images, Bill Kostroun/The Associated Pres, Julie Jacobson/The Associated Press)
For a Hall of Fame-bound star who authored so many of the most famous moments in recent baseball history, who shined so bright under an October spotlight, Derek Jeter also was defined by his everyday excellence throughout the summer.
His steady hands at shortstop. The feisty at-bat to spark a rally with an opposite-field single. The multimillion dollar icon who wouldn’t hesitate to bunt.
And then, of course, there were the highlights nobody will forget.
(Photos by: Alex Goodlett/Getty Images;AP Photo/Kalamazoo Gazette; AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File; AP Photo/Ed Betz, File; AP File)
Jose Bautista has tormented the Yankees this season. On Saturday, the Yankee Stadium fans returned fire, but the Blue Jays slugger got the last laugh.
And Marcus Stroman had a pleasant Saturday night too after boosting the Blue Jays to a 6-3 win in a solid start against his hometown team. The rookie earned his 11th win.
As the Jays snapped a season-high six-game losing streak, Bautista reached base five times, hit a homer and scored four runs. The seventh-inning homer inspired some hecklers and Bautista later admitted he blew kisses in return from his post in right field.
When he caught a fly ball for the final out in the seventh, he faked a toss into the seats, then kept the ball, prompting a torrent of boos.
When he came back out for the next inning, the taunting continued. Bautista tossed a warmup ball to the fans, but someone fired a ball back onto the field, and although it didn’t come close to hitting him, he figured it was time to ignore the hecklers and let his performance stand on its own.
(Photos by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)