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Kansas City Royals season-ending report: Resilience led to title

By
Alan Eskew, The Sports Xchange
Kansas City Royals Jarrod Dyson holds Major League Baseball's championship trophy when he celebrates with teammates on the field after the Royals win the World Series in the 12th innings against the New York Mets in game 5 at Citi Field in New York City on November 1, 2015. The Royals defeated the Mets 7-2 and won the series 4-1. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Kansas City Royals Jarrod Dyson holds Major League Baseball's championship trophy when he celebrates with teammates on the field after the Royals win the World Series in the 12th innings against the New York Mets in game 5 at Citi Field in New York City on November 1, 2015. The Royals defeated the Mets 7-2 and won the series 4-1. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- After stranding the tying run at third base to end Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants, the Kansas City Royals had some unfinished business in 2015.

They planned to get back to the World Series and win it.

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Mission accomplished.

Kansas City came from behind to beat the New York Mets in 12 innings Sunday to win the World Series in five games. Game 1 went 14 innings, matching the longest game in World Series history.

In both of those contests, the Royals trailed entering the ninth inning, but they proved to be a resilient group. They were in similar situations against the Houston Astros and Toronto Blue Jays in the American League playoffs en route to the World Series.

A "keep-the-line moving" mantra from hitting coach Dale Sveum and a rock-solid bullpen were the Royals' strengths.

The batting order was long with left fielder Alex Gordon and right fielder Alex Rios batting eighth and ninth. It was Gordon's home run with one out in the ninth in that sent Game 1 of the World Series into extra innings.

While the postseason bullpen did not have closer Greg Holland, who underwent Tommy John surgery in September, Wade Davis proved indestructible in October, and setup man Kelvin Herrera would close for many clubs.

The re-emergence of Luke Hochevar, who sat out 2014 after elbow surgery, and Ryan Madson, who had not pitched in the majors since 2011, added depth to the bullpen.

The rotation was unreliable. Johnny Cueto was acquired in a late-July trade to be the ace, but he was a rental that the Royals will not be able to afford to retain. He the postseason, he was up and down, but he finished on a high note, throwing a two-hitter in Game 2 against the Mets.

Right-handers Edinson Volquez and Yordano Ventura will return. Right-hander Kris Medlen, who started down the stretch, will be back, while veteran right-hander Chris Young is eligible for free agency.

The Royals must decide if left-hander Danny Duffy is better in the rotation or best suited for the bullpen, where he was in the postseason.

Kansas City could use a left-hander in the rotation, especially after giving up blue-chip left-handed prospects Brandon Finnegan, Sean Manaea, John Lamb and Cody Reed in trades for Cueto and valuable utility man Ben Zobrist.

The Royals would like to bring back Zobrist, but he could be a pricey free agent.

The core of the World Series championship club will return -- first baseman Eric Hosmer, shortstop Alcides Escobar, third baseman Mike Moustakas, center fielder Lorenzo Cain, catcher Salvador Perez and designated hitter Kendrys Morales.

Gordon, who has been a Royal since the team drafted him second overall in 2005, could go elsewhere as a free agent.

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