Extra Wild! Royals beat Angels in Game 1 of ALDS on Mike Moustakas home run

Mike Moustakas tosses his bat aside after bashing a home run in the 11th inning to give the Royals a 3-2 lead - and an eventual win over the Angels in Game 1 of the ALDS.Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports Mike Moustakas tosses his bat aside after bashing a home run in the 11th inning to give the Royals a 3-2 lead – and an eventual win over the Angels in Game 1 of the ALDS.

ANAHEIM – Mike Moustakas was born in Los Angeles, lives in nearby Newport Beach and had so many friends and family at Angel Stadium Thursday night “I couldn’t even tell you how many were here,” he said.

Moustakas, the Royals’ third baseman, gave them all quite a show, smacking the game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning off Angels’ reliever Fernando Salas, lifting Kansas City to yet another thrilling, emotional postseason victory.

This time it was 3-2 over the team that had the best record in baseball during the regular season. The homer by Moustakas, the No. 9 hitter in the Royals’ lineup, silenced a red-clad crowd of 45,321 that watched a game packed mostly with pitching and some remarkable defensive plays by Kansas City.

“It’s my first one (playoffs), but I’ve gotta guess it’s huge, coming here and getting Game 1,” said Moustakas.

The victory gave the Royals a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 series. Game 2 is Friday night at Angel Stadium. Counting their emotional comeback win Tuesday over Oakland in the wild card game, both of the Royals’ postseason games have gone extra frames so far. Maybe all the excitement is making up for KC not making the playoffs for 29 years.

Moustakas’ homer was the first extra-inning blast in a postseason game by a Royal and it was also the first hit for KC since the fifth inning. The Royals hit the fewest homers – 95 – in baseball during the regular season.

It also probably gave Moustakas, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2007 draft, a feeling of redemption during a season that probably didn’t go as he would have liked. He was sent briefly to Triple-A when he struggled in May and finished with the worst OPS (.632) of his career.

The news was not all good for the Royals, however, as reliever Kelvin Herrera, a vital part of their high-octane bullpen left the game hurt. Herrera, who can hit triple-digits on the radar gun, faced one batter in the seventh inning before being visited by trainers and leaving the game. The Royals said he had right forearm tightness.

The Royals bullpen has been perhaps the team’s greatest strength all season and it was terrific again Thursday night, as seven relievers allowed just one hit over five scoreless innings. Starter Jason Vargas allowed two runs on solo homers by Chris Iannetta and David Freese, but no other damage in six innings. The pen did the rest.

“We wouldn’t be here without our bullpen,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.

Danny Duffy (1-0) got the win by throwing a scoreless 10th and closer Greg Holland, who flew to California before the game Thursday after being in Asheville, N.C. all day Wednesday for the birth of his child, threw a perfect 11th.

The Angels, who led the majors in runs scored during the season were 0-for-12 with runners on base and 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Their star, Mike Trout, was 0-for-4 with a walk in his first-ever postseason game.

“We hit two home runs to keep ourselves in the game, but we really didn’t pressure those guys,” Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia said.

Still, Scioscia said, the game turned on gloves, not bats.

“This game was won by Kansas City with four incredible defensive plays,” Scioscia said. “That’s what really kept those guys in the game.”

The Royals blunted several Angels’ rallies with great defense. Lorenzo Cain made two remarkable catches in center field and Nori Aoki also made two sensational grabs in right field, including one at the wall in the sixth inning that likely saved two runs.

“That play against the wall was as good as you can make,” Yost said.

Still, Moustakas’ swing was the night’s biggest moment.

“He hit 15 home runs on the year, but none were as big as that one, for sure,” Yost said.

“That’s probably the biggest one I’ve ever hit so far,” Moustakas said. “It felt really amazing. I know I hit it pretty good, but that fence out there is pretty tall so I was hoping I had enough on it to get it out.” 

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