Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Royals Rookie Brandon Finnegan Shows Veteran Moxie in AL Wild-Card Victory

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Royals Rookie Brandon Finnegan Shows Veteran Moxie in AL Wild-Card Victory

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mike Sweeney was beaming.

Standing just feet outside the raucous Royals locker room -- close enough to hear the team's playoff anthem, "We Ready" by Archie Eversole, blaring on loop -- the former captain was relishing the aftermath of Kansas City's 9-8, 12-inning triumph over the Oakland A's in the AL wild-card game Tuesday at Kauffman Stadium.

It was a moment 29 years in the making, and Sweeney could not wait to talk about a 21-year-old rookie, Brandon Finnegan.

"It's crazy to think that three and a half months ago this kid was pitching in college, and now he's pitching in front of 40,000 people in possibly the biggest game in Royals history," Sweeney said. "Yet he came out and shined so bright."

Labeling Tuesday's epic, back-and-forth showdown the franchise's biggest game may seem like a stretch for a team with two World Series appearances and one championship, but considering the importance of the game to a generation of fans who have never seen anything close to success in Kansas City -- many of whom are the same age as Finnegan -- Sweeney may be on to something.

What isn't a stretch is Sweeney's observation that Finnegan shined bright. The left-hander, selected out of TCU in the first round of this year's MLB draft, entered a tie game in the top of the 10th inning and showed the moxie of an MLB veteran, throwing a career-high 21/3 innings to keep his club in the contest.

After fanning Oakland's Nick Punto in the top of the 10th -- the first of his three K's -- Finnegan pumped his fist, gave a dramatic leg kick and let out a roar rivaling any from the 40,502 in attendance.

"It's hard not to celebrate on that," said Finnegan, who added he has never been anywhere as loud as The K was on Tuesday. "When I've got adrenaline like that and the crowd is going like they were, I've got to celebrate somehow. …

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