Pinch hitter Patrick Mahomes hit a two-run, go-ahead homer off of Daniel Espino in the bottom of the seventh and the Kansas City Royals defeated the Cleveland Spiders in Game 7 of the ALCS to clinch the team’s first World Series appearance since they won it all in 2015.
Patrick Mahomes’ first at bat of the 2030 ALCS was a success.
With the Royals trailing the Cleveland Spiders 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Royals skipper Alex Gordon decided he needed a little Mahomes magic.
“We just weren’t making good contact and I felt like the air had kind of been sucked out of the dugout,” said Gordon, shortly after being doused with water by his players. “Espino was dealing up there and I knew Patrick has some success against him earlier in the season so I thought I’d pop him in there and see what happened.”
“I guess it worked out. It don’t hurt to have one of the most clutch athletes of all time sitting three feet away from you on your bench, you know?”
Clutch indeed. Mahomes, who had yet to register an at bat in the ALCS, seized the moment when Espino, the front runner to win the AL Cy Young Award, hung a 3-2 breaking ball.
Mahomes clobbered it.
“I got to see him a couple of times during the regular season so I felt comfortable facing him. He had great stuff today and I just tried to be patient and wait for my pitch and he hung one up there.”
Mahomes’ homer was only the fourth and last hit given up by Espino who went the distance.
“I feel for him [Espino] because he pitched one hell of a game,” said Spiders manager Sandy Alomar. “Hats off to [Asa] Lacy, as well. It was a great pitching duel. I just wish we could have scored a couple of more runs but that’s baseball.”
“This one stings,” said Espino during his post-game press conference. “To play so hard all year and to get this close and fall short...yeah, it’s one that is going to stick with me for sure. Hopefully we’ll be back.”
The Spiders were hoping to return to the World Series for the first time since 2016 when the club, then the “Indians” lost an epic Game 7 clash with the Chicago Cubs. Cleveland has the longest World Series drought in baseball, standing at 82 years.
As for Mahomes, he didn’t have much time to celebrate. His Royals teammates getting ready for Game 1 of the World Series against the San Diego Padres but his Kansas City Chiefs are set to play the London Jaguars tonight on Monday Night Football and they’re holding out hope that this season can be a championship bookend on his remarkable football career. Luckily for Mahomes, Arrowhead Stadium is just across the parking lot from Kauffman Stadium.
“I hear there is a pretty big party out in the parking lot so hopefully I can get a ride over there so I'm not late,” said Mahomes. “I don’t want coach [Eric] Bieniemy to get mad at me. Maybe they’ll send a golf cart or something.”
The 5-2 Chiefs are currently the betting favorites to win the Super Bowl. Should Mahomes win the World Series as a member of the Royals, he would be the third professional player ever to win championships in two major American sports.
Pitcher Gene Conley won the World Series with the Milwaukee Braves in 1957 and won multiple championships with the Boston Celtics from 1958 to 1961. Cleveland Browns great, Otto Graham, won three NFL championships and also won a title as a member of the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League in 1946.
In other words, if Mahomes pulls this off, it will be another remarkable accomplishment in what has already been a remarkable career.
“I try not to think about all that,” said Mahomes, who is also part owner of the Royals, when asked about following in the footsteps of Conley and Graham. “Honestly, I don’t. I’m just super excited and lucky to be a part of this great team and to be able to contribute in a small way while still playing football. It has been really exciting to follow in the footsteps of my father and to get to play the game he loved and that I love too, at the highest level.”
“I just try to take it one game at a time and right now, that means going over to join my teammates to get ready to play the Jaguars.”