Austin Schuster – 23 Sports

Longtime Royal Alex Gordon announced his retirement after 14 seasons with the Royals. Along with three All-Star appearances, seven Gold Gloves, a Platinum Glove and a World Series championship in 2015, Gordon is one of the most beloved Royals of all time. A fan-favorite in left field, Gordon has always been known for his extreme work ethic, turning sure base hits into spectacular diving catches. The Royals sent him out a winner, as they won their final series of the year over Detroit three games to one, finishing the shortened season at 26-34.

Kris Bubic got the start for Thursday’s series opener against Michael Fulmer, and it would turn out to be a slugfest. Salvador Perez homered in the first inning, a three-run shot, to give Kansas City an early 3-0 lead. Willi Castro of the Tigers answered with a two-run shot of his own in the third to make it 3-2. A sacrifice fly by Maikel Franco put the Royals ahead by two in the bottom of the third, but Miguel Cabrera tied the game with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. Franco crushed a solo shot in the sixth, followed by an RBI double from Jorge Soler, and an RBI single from Adalberto Mondesi that scored two runs. Detroit managed to score three runs in the top of the ninth to make it a one run game, but Jake Newberry was able to slam the door and record his first save, capping the Royals’ 8-7 win. Bubic had a below-average start, going 4.2 innings allowing four runs and striking out five, but the bullpen was able to bail him out, as Jesse Hahn got the win in relief.

Brad Keller started Friday night against Spencer Turnbull. Keller was outstanding again, pitching six shutout innings, striking out five and allowing just four hits. Ryan O’Hearn walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the first to start the scoring. Mondesi tripled home Franchy Cordero in the 2nd inning, and Franco scored Mondesi with a sacrifice fly in the fifth. Detroit rallied again, scoring two in the seventh, but Hahn got the save to cap Kansas City’s 3-2 win. Mondesi finished the night three for three.

On Saturday night, all Royals players honored Gordon with his signature streak of pine tar on the back of their jerseys, alongside Gordon’s number four mowed into the grass in left field, where he played. Carlos Hernandez started opposite Matthew Boyd, and Hernandez ran into some trouble early, as he allowed four runs through only 1.2 innings. The bullpen was fantastic, as Mike Montgomery, Newberry, Josh Staumont, and Tyler Zuber combined to shut out Detroit the rest of the night, but it wasn’t enough, as the Royals lost 4-3. Mondesi had two RBI’s, with a homer and RBI double on the night, and Franco got an RBI single. He was 2-3 on the night, and Whit Merrifield went 3-5.

Brady Singer started the last game of the year on Sunday afternoon, and naturally, he had another great start, pitching seven innings, allowing only one run and three hits. In an emotional moment, manager Mike Matheny took Gordon out in the top of the second, as he jogged off the field at Kauffman Stadium for the last time in his career. Mondesi and Ryan McBroom had homers on the day, and Mondesi drove in another run in the bottom of the eighth, and the Royals closed out their 2020 season, and Alex Gordon’s career with a 3-1 win. Hahn got the save.

In a season that was unlike any other, nobody was sure of baseball’s fate. Would they play? If so, how would it look? The COVID-19 pandemic has truly changed the world a lot. After agreeing to play a 60-game season starting in July, the Royals had high hopes, especially with an expanded Postseason format. A slow start really hurt them, but an absolutely red-hot finish fueled them to a 26-34 finish. They may not have made the Postseason, but this season sure felt like a success. This team is trending upward. As has always been the case in Kansas City, trust the process. With a stellar pitching staff and a young nucleus of talented position players, in a few years, this team will be very good, and someday, the Kansas City Royals will once again hoist the World Series trophy.

About Smith, Kayler (MU-Student)

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