They worked all season to take one more step in the World Series.
Eric Hosmer wouldn't wait any longer.
A daring dash by Hosmer tied the score in the ninth, and those bound-and-determined Kansas City Royals rallied yet again to beat the New York Mets 7-2 in 12 innings early Monday for their first championship since 1985.
One agonizing win from ecstasy last year, this time the Royals reign after their latest incredible comeback and a go-ahead hit in Game 5 from Christian Colon, maybe the most unlikely player in uniform.
“From Day One, there was no doubt in my mind that they wouldn't accomplish it. There was no doubt in their mind that they wouldn't accomplish it,” manager Ned Yost said. “It's just a special, special group that doesn't come around very often.”
Down 2-0 in the ninth, Kansas City fought back against two of the top arms on the pitching-rich Mets: Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia. And the Royals won it not with power at the plate but instead an aggressive sprint home by Hosmer on a groundout, a three-run double from Lorenzo Cain, a couple of crucial steals.
“I couldn't have written a better script,” Yost said.
That's how Series MVP Salvador Perez and the Royals became the first team since the 2002 Angels to come from behind in all four World Series wins, according to STATS.
That's how they washed out the bitter taste of last year's Game 7 loss to San Francisco at home, an October heartbreak that drove the Royals to their singular focus all season.
Never waver. Win it all. Wipe away the pain.
“Kansas City is No. 1. Who cares about what happened last year?” Perez said.
To get back where they were last fall - 90 feet from tying the Giants in the ninth inning - the Royals played more than 50,000 pitches of baseball and flew nearly 30,000 miles while crisscrossing the country.
Now, this group of homegrown favorites who revitalized a floundering franchise, Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon and Hosmer to name a few, can finally rest and rejoice.
Not to be forgotten, major contributions from new additions assembled by general manager Dayton Moore like Ben Zobrist, Johnny Cueto, Kendrys Morales, Chris Young and Alex Rios.
All together, they take their place in Royals history alongside Hall of Famer George Brett, Bret Saberhagen, Willie Wilson and those unexpected champs from 30 years ago.
“It's kind of good that these guys have their own identity,” said Brett, a team executive. “It's going to be fun comparing the two teams.”
Next up, Tuesday's parade in Kansas City to celebrate the club's second title, capped with a party at historic Union Station.
With no margin for error, Harvey put the Mets' last hope in his hands and hung on as long as he could. After eight scoreless innings, he pushed to pitch the ninth and finally faltered.
“Obviously, I let my heart get in the way of my gut,” manager Terry Collins said. “It didn't work. It was my fault.”
New York slugger Yoenis Cespedes exited with knee pain but Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff homer, his third long ball of the Series, and the Mets managed two runs against heavy-hearted Royals starter Edinson Volquez, pitching one day after returning from his father's funeral.
But for these resilient Royals, no deficit was too large, no time too late.
“We never quit. We never put our heads down,” Perez said. “We always compete to the last out.”
Perez looped a leadoff single in the 12th off losing pitcher Addison Reed, and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson stole second. One out later, Colon stepped in as a pinch-hitter for his first plate appearance since the regular-season finale Oct. 4.
Hardly rusty, he lined a 1-2 pitch into left-center and pounded his chest at first base.
“He's a winner,” Yost said.
Alcides Escobar added an RBI double, and Cain's bases-loaded double off Bartolo Colon broke it open.
Royals reliever Luke Hochevar, drafted No. 1 overall by the team in 2006, pitched two hitless innings for the win.
All that was left was for Wade Davis to close it out. He threw a called third strike past Wilmer Flores to end it and tossed his glove high in the air as the Royals rushed toward the mound to celebrate.
Out in the Midwest, fireworks popped from Missouri to cities all over Kansas. Thousands of fans crammed into the Power & Light District, partying as though it was New Year's Eve.
At Citi Field, hundreds of Royals fans dressed in blue descended toward the Kansas City dugout to cheer their champs. Perez received his MVP award after the catcher hit .364.
Later, the Mets came back onto the field to salute a smaller pocket of fans who stuck around for one last chant of “Let's go, Mets!” The team remains without a World Series title since 1986.
It was the eighth comeback victory for Kansas City this postseason, matching a mark also held by the 1997 Marlins and 2002 Angels, STATS said. The tenacious Royals trailed by at least two runs in a record seven of those games - including when they staved off elimination by overcoming a 6-2 deficit in the eighth inning of an AL playoff game in Houston.
Fired up all night, Harvey was at 102 pitches following a 1-2-3 eighth and stalked briskly back to the dugout with one purpose in mind. There, cameras caught him telling Collins - in no uncertain terms - he was going back out for the ninth.
Collins relented, and a huge roar went up as Harvey bounded off the bench and sprinted to the mound, looking for his second complete game in the majors. But he walked Cain on a full-count slider, and Hosmer hit an RBI double.
“I wanted it bad. The way the game was going, the last thing I wanted to do was not finish what I started,” Harvey said. “I poured my heart out and gave everything I had.”
Harvey was pulled for Familia, and Hosmer advanced on Moustakas' groundout to the right side.
Sound fundamentals - a Royals staple.
So up stepped Perez with the potential tying run 90 feet away, same as last year when he fouled out against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner to end the World Series.
This time, Perez got jammed and hit a slow grounder to third baseman David Wright, who froze Hosmer with a glance and threw across the diamond for the second out.
Hosmer, however, bolted for the plate when Wright released the ball. First baseman Lucas Duda fired wide of catcher Travis d'Arnaud - a good throw probably would have been in time - and Hosmer made a headfirst dive home with the tying run.
“As soon as I saw his head turn towards first, I just decided to take a chance,” Hosmer said. “It's a lot easier to take a chance when you're up three games to one, so just felt it was the right time.”
“There's no fear in anybody on this team,” he added.
Hosmer was greeted by excited teammates, while Familia was saddled with his third blown save of the Series, though two were the result of shaky defense.
“They definitely put their foot on the gas the entire series on the basepaths, and this is just another example,” Wright said.
Cespedes fouled a pitch off the top of his left kneecap in the sixth and crumpled to the dirt in pain. He couldn't even run to first base when he popped out, and was replaced in center field by Juan Lagares.
In an unusual bit of fortuitous scheduling, the teams open next season with two interleague games at Kansas City.