ALCS Game 6: Wade Davis Is a Heckuva Guy

 

wade davis celebrates

There’s nothing like a good hard rain to remind you that a game is just a game, to show you just how Mother Nature feels about this human spectacle. You want your team to go to the World Series? Fine, but first you have to deal with an antediluvian downpour above Kauffman Stadium in the middle of the eighth inning after Wade Davis was brought out to save everyone’s ass.

An inning ago we were ahead by two, but  Madson took over from Herrera and Revere singled off him and then Thor struck again, hitting a homerun and tying the store. The rain is just an encore to his at-bat. It feels like this must have been brewing all along—it’s the second homerun for Bautista tonight.

The question everyone seems to be asking is why Ned Yost bring out Madson. Bless him, but he was the guy who necessitated the Royals’ spectacular ALDS Game 4 comeback. Since you can’t have Wade Davis all the time, maybe go for someone who hasn’t allowed a single run in the postseason—like Hochevar.

The inning ended in a spectacularly Wade Davis style, striking out Tulowitzski after getting down in the count 3 – 1. But the tie in the eighth does not bode well. Late inning heroics are the meat and potatoes of the Royals! Not some other team!

nervous ned 2

Nervous Ned, moments before disaster struck.

The game has become torture for Royals fans and thrilling for everyone else. Zack and Muneesh especially. I’m at Zack’s place again. He and Muneesh want an exciting game and I just want the Royals to go to the World Series and maybe be able to eat some food in the meantime.

Among the Royals fans are me, and Rob, from Lawrence, Kansas. Most of the expletives currently bouncing off the walls are coming from us. Rob copes by staying glued to the couch and staring doggedly at the television. The weathermen point to the bad weather on the screen. It is a small, green strip that looks like cooked spinach that Popeye accidently splattered on the map. The singular blob hovers over the greater Kansas City area and nowhere else.

I cope by pacing and going to the bathroom a few times.

Before the rain delay and the big homerun the big point of discussion was the garden gnome who caught Moustakas’ home run, and then it was the catch that Revere made in the seventh when he pancaked himself against the outfield wall to catch a Salvy fly ball, turning a sure double into an out. We ended up scoring a run that inning, but could have done much more damage. Oh, and there was also the Fox News jinx. At the bottom of that same inning, before Thor struck, FOX accidentally advertised a Mets versus Royals World Series. The jinx is reminiscent of the Texas governor congratulating the Astros on winning the ALDS when they were up 6 – 2. If we lose this thing I’m blaming it on FOX.

But now all the talk is about the rain delay. Muneesh is castigating Yost for bringing out Davis to finish the eighth inning instead of beginning it, or saving him for the ninth.

“If the Royals win, it will be despite Ned Yost.”

Wade Davis was brought out after the damage was done, and now he might not come back to shield his team from any additional blows. Muneesh was convinced they would not bring him out again.

Even starting pitchers don’t withstand long rain delays. Way back in Game 1 of the ALDS, Ventura was pulled out after a 47 minute rain delay. But that could have also had something to do with the fact that he gave up three runs in the first two innings.

But when the rain finally ceases and the tarps are pulled back to start the bottom of the eighth there are no new faces warming up in the bullpen.

“Are they actually going to bring Wade Davis back in?”

“I doubt it. They shouldn’t.”

“But it’s Wade Davis.”

The Wade Davis question is temporarily forgotten when Lorenzo Cain works a walk from the Blue Jays’ own closer, Roberto Osuna. Everyone knows things start happening when Lorenzo Cain is walked. Hosmer singles into far right field as if on cue. Thor chases after it.

Rob and I erupt from the couch as Cain heads to third. But our rejoicing is premature because Cain is not done. He keeps going. He is hungry, he is tenacious, and he does not want to be stuck on third. Everyone is on their feet. Tulowitzski catches the ball after Cain rounds third and throws it home. Will Cain make it? He only allows a split second to wonder because in no time he’s already there. Lorenzo Cain has scored from first base on a single. Replays show Royals third base coach, Mike Jirschele, as he waves Cain home. He is helicoptering his arms so fast he looks like he’ll levitate.

cain can

Go home. /I did not take this picture

Morales then gets a single. Hosmer goes to second, and Terrance Gore is put in to pinch run. But after that the line does not keep moving. Moustakas hits a fly ball that is caught by Bautista. Any hope for us to add runs is stifled when Salvy grounds into a double-play.

Now we wait to see who will come out to pitch in the ninth. Rob and I agree that Hochevar would be a good pick. But jaws are dropped and gathered from the floor when Wade Davis does come out.

After hearing Muneesh, perhaps I should be a little more anxious. But really, as far as Royals fans are concerned, it’s in Wade “Get the Job Done” Davis we trust.  Wade Davis approaches the mound not with the gusto of an incumbent conqueror, but with the excitement of someone clocking in for an overtime shift. Then, he stoops down to scrawl something in the dirt.

Has anyone tried to google Wade Davis? When you do, two Wade Davises show up. One is our Number 17, the other is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. He’s worth looking up, too. If you google videos of Wade Davis, one Wade Davis has reels of epic strike outs, the other Wade Davis does TED talks on indigenous cultures. The reason I googled Wade Davis in the first place is because I wanted to know what he writes in the dirt. If he does yoga. How he stays so composed.

It turns out Wade Davis of the Royals, not National Geographic, does not do yoga, but he does fish. He also lost a brother and writes his initials on the mound. Number 17 is the number his brother wore when he played baseball.

I don’t think Wade Davis writes on the mound all the time, but this time he does and for some reason I have the feeling that this inning will be a Big Moment in Sports.

Rob and I are only slightly rattled when Russell Martin gets a single. It’s fitting, maybe even poetic, that a guy who caught for Mariano Rivera gets a hit off Wade Davis. It’s just one man on, and not a fast man at that. Except that it’s not Russell Martin on first base anymore. It’s some other guy who’s put in to pinch run. We quickly learn his name after he steals second before the first pitch is even thrown, and then he steals third. He is Dalton Pompey and I like him not one bit.

There is a harmony of ooohs that follows Pompey’s slide into third. Some are high, excited sopranos, and there are low, mournful tones coming from Rob and me. Is Pompey about to pull a Jerrod Dyson? Are the ALCS Game 6 Blue Jays the 2014 Wild Card game Royals? Sure, there’s always Game 7, but this would be a terrible, terrible plot twist to endure.

Pillar is now up to bat. Pompey menacing at third complicates things. Wade Davis obviously can’t let Pillar get a hit, but he also can’t afford to get Pillar out on a fly ball—something Davis induces a lot.

Davis walks Pillar after having him at a 1 -2 count. Oh man, oh man. I feel like I’m on amphetamines again. My foot is shaking. I grab my head to make sure it’s still there. Oh, Wade Davis, you can do this.

Mostly everyone is too enthralled by the game to string together complete sentences, except for Muneesh, who eloquently bashes Ned Yost. Nothing makes sense. Has the rain washed away Wade Davis’ magic powers? Right now he is not the guaranteed victory at the end of the game, not the period at the end of the sentence. He is now a question mark (Or maybe I shouldn’t be doubting Wade Davis. Maybe the problem here is that I don’t have enough faith).

But there are so many questions running through my mind. If we go to game seven the Blue Jays will be the ones with the momentum and that’s not good. Also, Johnny Cueto will probably be pitching and that could be either horrific or sublime. So basically it would be really great if Wade Davis could pull a win out of his behind right now.

He is not pulling anything out of his behind, however. He is straightening his slouch and tucking in his shirt. I am sweating, but he is not.

The next at-bat simultaneously loosens and tightens the noose. In the last pitch, Davis strikes out Navarro right as Pillar steals second base.

“OOOOOOOOOOHHH, ho-ho,” exclaims Zack.

“Holy shit,” exclaims Muneesh.

“Fuck,” say Rob and I.

The camera zooms in on Escobar, whose eyes are as wide as baseballs. Wade Davis seems to be the only one not freaking out about what’s happening to Wade Davis.

escobar looks nervous

I feel the same way

One down, two men on, two men up. Can he really get the next two batters out? The answer is yes, of course, he’s been doing it all year. But can he do it with a Cheetah on third and another guy on second after a 45-minute rain delay?

Revere comes up to bat. He’s the guy who robbed Salvy of a double back in the seventh inning ago. It is a hitter’s count, 2 – 1. Davis throws the next pitch and Revere sees a ball. But it’s a mirage, says the ump. A mirage he calls a strike. Revere jumps up and down in protest. His frustration shows us that he knows Wade Davis can do this. He is Wade Davis the closer, and also Wade Davis the reliever–Wade Davis, the guy with the 0.00 postseason ERA, no question marks. He proves it by striking Revere out on the very next pitch. Revere is next seen in the dugout taking his frustration out on a trash can. Is he frustrated because he might have been hero of the Blue Jays and he couldn’t make it happen? Is he more frustrated about the 2 – 2 pitch or the last pitch, a filthy, dirty, beautiful knuckle curve that dropped right as he swung at it? It doesn’t seem safe to ask.

There are two men out but the danger is very real still because Donaldson is next at bat. Donaldson, the MVP of the American League. Donaldson, who is followed by Bautista. Will Wade Davis vanquish him or set the stage for extra innings and a Bautista at-bat?

The count is 2 – 1 when Donaldson hits Davis’ next pitch. I hold my breath until I see the trajectory of ball–straight into Moustakas’ glove and then to Hosmer at first base to get out of the inning and into the World Series. There is a frenzy on the field and in the stadium, and in Zack’s living room.

I can’t say enough about Wade Davis. This was the most Royals-style inning Wade Davis has had. This inning was to him what Game 4 against the Astros was for the entire team. First you dig your grave, then you put one foot in it, and make sure your back is firmly planted against the wall. And then start making things happen. If there was ever a question as to whether or not Wade Davis is human, there is your answer. A definitive yes, with an exclamation point.

salvy exclaimation point

I am a Royals fan living in New York City. If anyone wonders why I didn’t post anything in October, there’s your answer. The following entries detail the experience of watching the postseason far away from my hometown, in a much different place where fans from all over this huge country converge. Immigrants proudly display flags of their home countries in their windows and dwellings, but during the postseason, signs of national migrants’ provenance appear on heads and hearts in the form of caps and shirts. Giants fans scowl at Dodgers fans as Yankee stadium looms in the distance–it’s always looming, literally and figuratively. You can see it from the plane as you leave the city for wherever you’re from, and again when you come back. Meanwhile, in stretches of Brooklyn and Queens, and especially on the 7 train to Jackson Heights when you need to eat momos, you’re reminded that, hello, the Mets are here, too! I see lots of Orioles fans, Phillies fans, and yes, even Red Sox fans. There are not many Royals fans here, but the postseason as an expat is never a lonely experience, just a different one.* 

*Disclaimer: These posts might contain cliche images of athletes. Writing about sports means I have to deal with levels of kitsch I am not used to accommodating. I’m sorry. Also, I’ll get back to my Craigslist stories after this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 Comment

Filed under personal essay

One response to “ALCS Game 6: Wade Davis Is a Heckuva Guy

  1. Wade Davis should get an Oscar for best screenplay, director and actor.
    Of course your writing makes it all come alive….can’t wait for. Next season!,
    Love—Dodger Dad. Your words have the. Power of Vin Scully

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