by Steve Bogira
The Royals upended Dunn's Oakland A's, 9-8, in 12 innings before a delirious crowd in Kansas City. The Royals, who hadn't been in the postseason since 1985, now advance to a best-of-five series against the Angels that starts Thursday in Los Angeles. The A's are through for the season, and Dunn for good: the 34-year-old is retiring.
Even though a righty, James Shields, was starting on the mound for the Royals, A's manager Bob Melvin liked his chances better with Dunn on the bench and Brandon Moss DH-ing, with Sam Fuld in left. That worked out well, as Moss slammed two-run and three-run homers and Fuld went two for five. Forty-one players made it into the game, but not Dunn.
Long balls aren't essential to winning baseball, as the Royals would prove. They trailed 7-3 into the eighth, then ran themselves back into the game. Alcides Escobar singled and stole second. One out later, Lorenzo Cain singled Escobar in and stole second. After Eric Hosmer walked, Billy Butler singled in Cain, with Hosmer taking third. Terrance Gore, running for Butler, stole second. Hosmer scored on a wild pitch, making it 7-6, and Gore advanced to third. Alex Gordon walked and stole second, but the Royals couldn't bring Gore or Gordon in.
In the last of the ninth, Jarrod Dyson stole third and scored on a sacrifice fly, tying the game.
The Kansas City Police Department then tweeted, "We really need everyone to not commit crimes and drive safely right now. We'd like to hear the @Royals clinch this." That plea to follow the law was interesting, given the Royals' larceny.
The A's scored one in the 12th, and it looked like they'd redeemed themselves from their late-inning collapse. But with one out in the home half, Hosmer tripled. Christian Colon singled him in, and one out later, he of course stole second. Salvador Perez singled him in for the Royals' victory. Dunn dawdled in the dugout, and in the locker room he was the last A's player to pull off his uniform, which was spotless.
He finished his career with 462 homers, a .237 average, and 2,379 strikeouts—he's third in all-time Ks behind Reggie Jackson's 2,597 and Jim Thome's 2,548. Jackson needed 21 seasons to roll up that many whiffs, and Thome took 22, whereas Dunn amassed his heap of Ks in only 14.
Maybe he should return next season for a farewell strikeout tour. Fans attending his last game in the various cities could be given a Dunn memento—a ministatue of him watching strike three zip by, or a bat with a hole in it.
The Royals were the anti-Dunn last night. They showed how thrilling the game is when batters put the ball in play and dash around the bases, instead of occasionally trotting around them and mostly whiffing, whiffing, and whiffing.