Mike Moustakas hit a leadoff home run in the top of the 11th inning to lift the Kansas City Royals to a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday.
Moustakas put a big swing on a 1-1 change-up from Angels reliever Fernando Salas and got just enough of it to clear the 19-foot wall in right field. Despite being among the team leaders in home runs with 15, Moustakas had not gone deep in his previous 111 plate appearances and slugged just .265 during that time.
The homer was the Royals' fourth hit of the night, and just the eighth between both teams.
The Angels entered extra innings with only three hits, but two of them were of the long, loud and impactful variety.
Chris Iannetta, who was on the Colorado Rockies' roster for a total of 16 postseason games in 2007 and 2009, finally received his first career playoff plate appearance in the bottom of the third. He didn't disappoint, sending a 2-1 change-up from Jason Vargas over the left field wall to even the score after the Royals took an early 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Alcides Escobar in the top half of the inning.
David Freese lived up to his big-game reputation by hitting his eighth career postseason home run, a game-tying solo shot also off of Vargas, in the sixth inning.
Royals starter Jason Vargas worked around the two solo shots to post six strong innings, striking out two batters and walking only one. Angels ace Jered Weaver went toe-to-toe with Vargas, surrendering a pair of runs on three hits and two walks while striking out six in seven solid frames.
The Angels had a couple of legitimate late scoring chances, but Royals outfielder Nori Aoki made two adventurous, run-saving catches at the warning track in right. With two outs and two on in the sixth, Kendrick's deep fly ball was about to fall out of reach of the outstretched glove of Lorenzo Cain until Aoki got there just before the ball hit the wall. An inning later, and also with two outs and runners aboard, Aoki overran C.J. Cron's shot to right before recovering to make a diving catch on the track.
Kansas City leads the best-of-five series, 1-0.
The Angels will try to bounce back in Game 2 with Matt Shoemaker, who posted a 3.04 ERA with 124 strikeouts in 136 innings during a breakout year, on the hill. He'll be opposed by Yordano Ventura, who allowed a home run in a relief appearance in the AL Wild Card play-in game. Ventura posted a 3.23 ERA in 30 starts in his first full season.