The Kansas City Royals are captivating bleary-eyed baseball fans, who are either rooting for their bunt-a-rific game strategy or actively denouncing it in social media. The Royals won one of the most entertaining games in recent memory against the crash-and-burn Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night, and have begun their ALDS series with the Angels in similar exciting nail-biting fashion.
The Royals' path to what could conceivably be their first ALCS berth since 1985, when they last made the playoffs and won the World Series, has been unconventional at best, and already can be considered historical. Since 1900, only 15 teams have played multiple extra inning games, and only two teams in one series have given fans free baseball in more than two outings in a row. The Royals are already in historical company, as they have joined the 1980 Phillies and Astros as the only teams to have played more than two consecutive extra-inning playoff games. The historical 1980 NLCS featured four consecutive extra inning games, but only an additional five innings -- the Royals have already played an extra seven.
Since the turn of the 20th century, only five other teams have played more additional innings in straight playoff games than Kansas City. The record for most consecutive extra innings is held by the Mets and Astros, who in the 1986 NLCS played two classic games that both went into extra frames. After a 12-inning victory by the Mets in game five, they won the series the following night, when they barely passed the Astros in a 16-inning marathon.
Whether or not you love the Royals' formula of efficient defense, effective bunting, and electric baserunning, you should realize the truly historical stretch you're currently witnessing. Sure, come Monday, we may not be able to keep our eyes open, but more extra inning games would set some new records, and potentially bring us into unprecedented territory, and who wouldn't be in favor of that?
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All statistics courtesy of MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.
Steven Martano is a contributing writer a Beyond the Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter at @SMartano.