The Detroit Tigers stormed past the New York Yankees to win the 2012 American League pennant. But they would not have been in the position to even participate in the post season without the help of the Kansas City Royals.
Following a nine game winning streak in late May and early June, the Chicago White Sox were in first place in the American League Central. Save for a day here and there, the South Siders were on top as late as September 24th, with nine games left.
But the team collapsed and Chicago's downfall can be linked to the Kansas City Royal's victories against them. The 90 loss Royals won only 72 times all season. 12 of those wins were against the White Sox.
From August 6th to September 20th, the Royals and the White Sox played each other 12 times. The Royals record in those 12 games was 9-3.
Twice Kansas City swept the White Sox. And many of the wins were close, including a 2-1 extra inning victory on September 9th in Chicago. Mike Moustakas and Jeff Francoeur each singled home runs in the 10th and Greg Holland struck out the final two White Sox with the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the 10th.
And when the White Sox went on a five game winning streak in mid September that gave them a three game cushion with 15 to play, it was the Royals who sent them spiraling. Starting with Bruce Chen's 3-0 victory over Chris Sale, the White Sox lost 10 of their final 14 games and lost the division to the Tigers.
The day after Chen defeated Sale, Eric Hosmer smacked a walk off single against Matt Thornton to give the Royals another victory of Chicago.
Had the White Sox just split the 12 games with the Royals instead of losing nine of them, they would have tied the Tigers. If they won seven of 12, they would have won the Division.
But the Royals were in their own way king makers. As a talented young Royals team enters 2013, they will go in knowing that one of their division rivals would have a chip on their shoulder against them.
And if the Royals can continue to see the development of Salvador Perez, Horner, Moustakas and Wil Myers, they could give fits to the rest of the Central and not just the White Sox.
Either way, if the Tigers win the World Series, they should send over some bubbly to the Royals. They would never have gotten in without them.
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