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Game 113 // Seventh Inning // The Checked Swing of the Year

The Wild Card chase is on, folks.

It is on.


All still in the mix are: The Yankees, the Twins, the Orioles, the Angels, the Mariners, the Royals, the Rangers, the Rays.

More than it’s ever been, the chase is on.

And it’s all hanging in the balance, this sunny afternoon in Minnesota, with a check-swing from Lorenzo Cain that might’ve just saved the season.


A 2-2 count, and there it is:




He takes—barely. And stays alive. The pitcher thought he had him, the catcher thought they had him, the whole team thought they had him… 

And Paul Molitor, he thought they had him. And he says so, loud and clear, from the top step of the dugout.

He’s tossed—without a second of hesitation from the home plate umpire.


On the broadcast, LaTroy Hawkins chimes in. And just after the check-swing of the year, we get maybe the best single line about an umpire all year.




Indeed they are, LaTroy. More sensitive by the day! It’s almost like… they got their feelings hurt, and Joe West called a league-wide meeting, and started a social justice movement to repair those hurt feelings. It’s almost like… did this really happen??




And so, Molitor heads off to the clubhouse. Lorenzo Cain steps back into the box. Busenitz readies on the mound. And the very next pitch: thwack!

Off the wall in deep centerfield. Over the head of the fastest outfielder in the game. The ball caroms off the wall, Kepler dashes way over from right to grab it. Two runs score, Cain charges into third, AROUND third, going for home, the throw comes in from the relay man and he’s OUT just by half an arm’s length.




If Cain had made the inside-the-parker, well, that just might’ve been the highlight of the Royals season. Lowlight of Paul Molitor’s year.

But as it stands: Royals lead, 5-4. Cain out, Royals ecstatic, half-inning over. Twins fans nervous with that second Wild Card spot hanging in the balance.


And Royals fans? They…. don’t know what to think. You went from that slow slow mid-summer build in the standings, to some ups, some downs, to the highlight of the year so far—the Eric Hosmer Walk-off of two weeks ago:




But then, the bad came. The historically bad came. The BAD. The great plague of zeros. The #RoyalsNoScore era. What was, to be more specific, 45 SCORELESS INNINGS. 45! IN A ROW!




So you have the that and then the THAT, and now, with the Wild Card calendar counting down until the end of September—you have the this.

Is the this something? Will they sneak into that Wild Card game?


The 2017 Kansas City Royals—going for it one last time before the free agency axe comes and breaks up the band. Quote me if it all started one sunny Sunday afternoon in Minnesota, Lorenzo Cain charging around third base, huffing and puffing and sliding for home, saying: We’re not done yet.




*Men’s Wearhouse ad voice*

This September, you’re gonna like the way they Wild Card. I guarantee it.






Inning 103: Here Come the Royals

Inning 45: Royals Rally Rally Rally