On Tuesday, the Kansas City Royals used extra innings to defeat the Oakland Athletics in their American League Wild Card matchup. The Royals again went into extra frames in Game 1 of their Division Series with the Los Angeles Angels and achieved the same result on Thursday, winning 3-2.
Offensively, Mike Moustakas played the hero for KC, hitting the game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning to propel the Royals to victory. Moustakas also had a hand in another Kansas City run when he drew a two-out walk in the third inning and was driven home on a double by Alcides Escobar.
The night, however, was dominated by pitching. Each team not only received quality starts, but had excellent bullpen work as well.
Royals’ starter Jason Vargas went six innings giving up only two runs on three hits. After his exit, Kansas City’s bullpen did run into trouble at times and gave up four walks, but allowed only a single hit after Vargas’ departure.
Royals reliever Greg Holland probably had the best day of anyone, however. Holland was away for part of the game to be at the birth of his son and then came in to close the game in the 11th, earning the save. Danny Duffy, who pitched the tenth inning for the team, earned the victory.
Los Angeles got an even better start from Jered Weaver. Weaver struck out six, while giving up only two runs on three hits through seven innings. The Angels’ relievers also had a strong effort, not giving up a hit until Moustakas’ home run.
With each team picking up only four hits, offense was at a premium. The Royals scratched out their first run on the aforementioned two-out double and two innings later in the fifth, Alex Gordon scored on a sacrifice fly by Omar Infante to account for Kansas City’s scoring.
Los Angeles, meanwhile, had just as difficult of a time trying to produce runs. The Angels’ big bats were cooled as Albert Pujols and Mike Trout were a combined 0-8 at the plate. For Trout, it was his first playoff appearance, and it goes without saying that the team will need offense from the pair to advance to the ALCS.
The team’s offense came from some unlikely sources as catcher Chris Ianetta, who had only seven home runs on the season, homered in the third inning to tie to game at 1-1. David Freese also hit a home run for the Angels in the fifth inning to again even things up at 2-2 before Moustakas’ heroics.
Game 2 will feature an interesting pitching matchup as the teams will start a pair of rookies. The Angels will start Matt Shoemaker opposite Kansas City’s Yordano Ventura, who struggled in the Royals’ Wild Card matchup earlier this week.