The 2014 MLB postseason kicked off with a bang on Tuesday night, as the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals battled for 12 innings in the win or go home American League Wild Card game. On paper, the winner take all contest appeared to favor pitching, as both teams were set to send their ace to the mound. However, both the A’s and the Royals came out swinging and opened the scoring early. In the top of the first, Oakland jumped out to a 2 run advantage after Brandon Moss drove a Shields offering into deep left. Kansas City, however, was quick to respond as they tallied a run in the home half of the inning on an RBI single by Billy Butler. Down a run, the Royals went on to take the lead in the bottom of the third inning on back-to-back run scoring hits by Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer. An inning later, Brandon Moss once again tipped the scale back in favor of the A’s, as he collected his second home run of the game off Shields — this one of the three-run variety. Derek Norris and Coco Crisp followed Moss’s blast with a pair of RBI singles. Down 7-3, the Royals mounted a 3-run rally in the 8th inning and whittled their deficit to one run. But their comeback wasn’t yet complete and life only got harder for the Royals with A’s closer Sean Doolittle on the hill in the 9th. But the Royals remained poised in finishing the comeback and rallied in the 9th to tie the game at 7. After threatening to score but ultimately leaving runners stranded, both teams traded back-to-back scoreless frames in the 10th and 11th. Josh Reddick lead-off the 12th inning with a walk, and was later advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Alberto Callaspo then followed with an RBI single to give the A’s a one run lead. After an Eric Hosmer triple lead off the home half of the 12th, Kansas City again tied the score on an infield single by Christian Colon. One batter later, Royals catcher Salvatore Perez atoned for his 0-for-5 night at the plate, and line a single down the left field line to score Colon from second. Perez’s walk-off single assured the Royals a Divisional Series match-up against the AL West winning Anaheim Angels.
- After warming up their pipes by breaking the record for loudest stadium in the world during Monday night’s Chiefs game, Kansas City fans brought the noise over to Kauffman Stadium during Tuesday nights AL Wild Card game. The fans noise was apparently so loud that A’s outfielders Jonny Gomes and Sam Fuld couldn’t hear each other, and nearly collided on Eric Hosmer’s pivotal 12th inning triple. (Royally loud: Fuld and Gomes collide on Hosmer’s key triple in 12th)
- While the rest of the baseball world is enjoying the MLB postseason, teams out of contention like the Red Sox are busy plotting their attack for the winter. Boston enters the offseason with a solid core of position players, but serious needs in the starting rotation. The team will look to add at least one top tier arm, after trading away both Jon Lester and John Lackey this summer. With Will Middlebrooks future in question and a righty-heavy line-up, Boston could also explore options at third base. Whichever route the Red Sox ultimately decide to take, money shouldn’t be an issue, as the team enters the winter with deep pockets to fill their needs. (Last-place Red Sox have money to spend, several specific holes to fill)
- A financial breakdown of the Red Sox 2015 payroll suggests that Boston will enter the offseason with approximately $52M to play with this winter. As it stands now, the Red Sox have limited players with guaranteed money deals, 9 players under team control, and 2 players up for arbitration. While the Sox braintrust has said that the $189M luxury tax threshold isn’t a hard cap, the team’s current $137M in payroll commitments leaves enough room to operate comfortably without needing to exceed the spending penalty. (Ready to go to market: A look at the Red Sox’ 2015 payroll and spending power)
- After enduring an up and down 2014 season, Clay Buchholz underwent successful right knee surgery on Tuesday. The 30-year went under the knife to repair an ailing right meniscus, but it should not hamper the righties offseason workouts. Ben Cherington explained that the injury isn’t career threatening but it’s something that the team wanted to be proactive on. (Buchholz has successful surgery)
- With the Chicago Cubs assistant hitting coach position in limbo, the team is reportedly considering a Boston icon to fill the role. Currently a player/coach for the triple-A Iowa Cubs, Manny Ramirez has received high praise for his work with young Cubs prospects. While it isn’t yet known if the former World Series MVP would retire from playing in order to take on the job, Cubs President Theo Epstien didn’t close the door on the idea. (Manny Ramirez, Cubs assistant hitting coach?)
- Tweet of the day: Last night was fun.