ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mike Moustakas homered leading off the 11th inning, and the Kansas City Royals kept rolling in their first postseason in 29 years with a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League Division Series opener Thursday night.
Moustakas hit the first extra-inning homer in postseason history for the Royals, a high shot off Fernando Salas that barely reached the elevated right-field stands at Angel Stadium.
Alcides Escobar had an early RBI double for the Royals, and their bullpen repeatedly escaped trouble in Kansas City’s first game since that spectacular, 12-inning comeback victory over Oakland in the wild-card playoff Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Chris Iannetta and David Freese homered early in the Angels’ first playoff game since 2009, but the majors’ most productive offense stranded eight runners in the five innings before Greg Holland’s perfect 11th.
Winning pitcher Danny Duffy worked the 10th for Kansas City, and Holland picked up the save after arriving at the ballpark around the fourth inning. He went to North Carolina on the Royals’ off day to attend his child’s birth.
Mike Trout was 0-for-4 with a walk in his playoff debut. The favorite for AL MVP grounded into a fielder’s choice in the 10th before Albert Pujols popped out to end his 0-for-4 Angels playoff debut. Josh Hamilton popped out to end the game, capping his 0-for-5 return to the lineup.
Jered Weaver, Joe Smith and Huston Street combined to retire Kansas City’s final 15 batters before extra innings — and that’s when the Royals went to work. Kevin Jepsen let two runners on in the 10th, but retired Salvador Perez and Omar Infante to escape.
Salas wasn’t as lucky, giving up a homer to the Royals’ No. 9 hitter.
The Royals can’t match Los Angeles’ offense on paper, but they’ve got some remarkable postseason mojo.
Even before Moustakas’ homer, Nori Aoki made dramatically awkward catches on the right-field warning track to end the sixth and seventh. Lorenzo Cain also made two exceptional plays in center field in the first two innings, underlining Kansas City’s stellar defense.
Weaver yielded three hits over seven strong innings for the Angels while his good friend, Jason Vargas, pitched six innings of three-hit ball for Kansas City.
Game 2 in the best-of-five series is Friday night at the Big A, with Angels 16-game winner Matt Shoemaker taking on fellow rookie Yordano Ventura.
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