Royals' season ends 90 feet short in World Series

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The roars from the field had died away. Kauffman Stadium had fallen silent for the first time all night. In the Royals' clubhouse, Alex Gordon had finally peeled off his dirt-stained jersey.

He had just watched the San Francisco Giants celebrate their third World Series title in five years, capped by a 3-2 victory in Game 7 on Wednesday night. But all he could think about was whether he could have scored the tying run with two outs in the ninth inning.

"It was a good hold," Gordon said, eventually. "Close, but just short."

Summing up the Royals' season along with their season finale.

The Giants had taken the lead in the fourth inning, and the game amounted to a battle of bullpens. San Francisco turned to its ace, Madison Bumgarner, and he kept breezing through the Kansas City lineup, right up until Gordon's two-out single to left field.

The ball skipped past Gregor Blanco and reached the wall, and Gordon churned around third base and headed home. But he couldn't get a good read on where the ball was because of the lighted scoreboard in left field, so he relied on third-base coach Mike Jirschele for guidance.

Jirschele said stop. Gordon put on the brakes.

He was left standing 90 feet from home when Sal Perez popped out to end the game.

"It's tough to pick the ball up from the dugout with that board out there," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "There was some hope that it might happened, but it didn't."

Still, the season will be remembered for much more than how close the Royals came to forcing extra innings one more time. It will be remembered for their 12-inning wild-card win over Oakland, and sweeps of the Angels and Orioles in their first playoff appearance since 1985.

It will be remembered for Yordano Ventura's inspired pitching performance in Game 6. And the gutsy performances by the brilliant bullpen. It will be remembered for James Shields and Wade Davis, and the way they taught a losing clubhouse how to win.

It will be remembered for waking a baseball-starved city from its slumber.

"The character we had in this clubhouse is what I'll remember the most," said Shields, who now becomes a free agent and will likely pitch elsewhere for next season.

"We battled," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "I think you saw how much heart we have."

It was on display one last time in the World Series.

After splitting the first two games at home, Kansas City lost two of three in San Francisco, returning to Kauffman Stadium needing a victory just to force a deciding Game 7.

The Royals got it in a 10-0 rout behind Ventura, who dedicated the victory to the late Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, his good friend who died in a car crash over the weekend.

Kansas City rallied once more in the finale, falling behind 2-0 in the second inning when the Giants managed back-to-back sacrifice flies against Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie.

In the bottom half, Butler laced a single up the middle, and Gordon drove in a run with a double. He later took third base on a fly out by Mike Moustakas, and then hustled home for the tying run when Omar Infante sent another flyball to center field.

Once the Giants regained the lead, though, the Royals couldn't find an answer.

"Obviously, we wanted to win," Gordon said, "but to be in this situation with these young guys and what they've done this postseason, I'm just proud to be a part of this team."

Now, the question is whether it will take them another 29 years to return.

Along with the likely departure of Shields, the Royals will have to make some hard decisions with players such as Butler, who holds a pricy option for next season. But young cornerstones in Hosmer, Perez and Lorenzo Cain should provide the foundation for the next few years.

"You know, the organization has a special time to build on what we have here," Butler said, "and that's a rare thing to have, to have this much talent in here and go into next year having the majority of that back. Not every team has that. We have an opportunity to build on that, and we have an opportunity to be a better team next year."

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Royals' season ends 90 feet short in World Series
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
The San Francisco Giants celebrate after Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Giants won 3-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants players celebrate after Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Giants won 3-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Members of the San Francisco Giants celebrate their 3-2 win against the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Members of the San Francisco Giants celebrate their 3-2 win against the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates on the field after defeating the the Kansas City Royals 3-2 to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Buster Posey #28 and Madison Bumgarner #40 of the San Francisco Giants celebrate after defeating the Kansas City Royals to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series by a score of 3-2 at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants Pablo Sandoval catches the last out a pop fly by Kansas City Royals Salvador Perez during the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Giants won 3-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
San Francisco Giants Pablo Sandoval catches the last out a pop fly by Kansas City Royals Salvador Perez during the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Giants won 3-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Teammates celebrate as San Francisco Giants Pablo Sandoval catches the last out a pop fly by Kansas City Royals Salvador Perez during the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Giants won 3-2 to win the series. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval celebrates after catching the final out in the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
The Kansas City Royals await the arrival of relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera in the fourth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (Rich Sugg/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals players watch from their dugout the seventh inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws against the Kansas City Royals during the sixth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
San Francisco Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws during the fifth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: The San Francisco Giants celebrate in the locker room after defeating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: The San Francisco Giants celebrate in the locker room after defeating the Kansas City Royals 3-2 to win Game Seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler singles against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain celebrates a single against the San Francisco Giants during the third inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Kansas City Royals Lorenzo Cain points to his bench after hitting a single during the third inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain hits a single during the third inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson watches as Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon slides at home plate to score on a sacrifice fly by Omar Infante while San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey waits for the throw during the second inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Home plate umpire Jeff Nelson watches as Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon slides at home plate to score on a sacrifice fly by Omar Infante past San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey during the second inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon advances to third on a sacrifice fly by Mike Moustakas while San Francisco Giants Pablo Sandoval waits for the throw during the second inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Alcides Escobar #2 of the Kansas City Royals makes a play to end the top of the seventh inning in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Alcides Escobar #2 of the Kansas City Royals makes a play to end the top of the seventh inning in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Alcides Escobar #2 of the Kansas City Royals makes a play to end the top of the seventh inning in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Alcides Escobar #2 of the Kansas City Royals makes a play to end the top of the seventh inning in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik throws to shortstop Brandon Crawford (35) to start a double play against the Kansas City Royals in the third inning during Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (Paul Kitagaki Jr./Sacramento Bee/MCT via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Brandon Crawford #35 of the San Francisco Giants turns a double plays as Lorenzo Cain #6 of the Kansas City Royals slides into second base in the bottom of the third inning of Game 7 of the 2014 World Series on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Michael Morse #38 of the San Francisco Giants hits a RBI single in the top of the fourth inning of Game 7 of the 2014 World Series against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants reacts against the Kansas City Royals during Game Seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, MO - OCTOBER 29: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the San Francisco Giants reacts against the Kansas City Royals during Game Seven of the 2014 World Series at Kauffman Stadium on October 29, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals' Billy Butler flies out in the sixth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
The Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain reacts after striking out in the fifth inning against the San Francisco Giants in Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. (John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT via Getty Images)
San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval celebrates after catching the final out in the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the Kansas City Royals Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
A Kansas City Royals fan watches during the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
Kansas City Royals fans watch during the eighth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
A Kansas City Royals fan watches during the ninth inning of Game 7 of baseball's World Series against the San Francisco Giants, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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