BALTIMORE — Alex Gordon had already compiled a career’s worth of playoff memories when he stepped to the plate in the 10th inning of a tie game.
Given the Kansas City Royals’ success rate in extra innings this postseason, what happened next was almost inevitable.
Gordon homered to put Kansas City in front, Mike Moustakas added a two-run shot and the Royals defeated the Baltimore Orioles 8-6 Friday night in the opener of the AL Championship Series.
Kansas City is 5-0 this postseason, winning four times in extra innings.
“These games, we’ve played so many of them that we’re kind of used to them a little bit,” manager Ned Yost said. “And we still have a lot of confidence.”
Before hitting his first playoff homer, Gordon doubled in three runs, was picked off first base, made a great catch in left field and got hit in the neck with a pitch.
“Gordy just has a lot of confidence in his abilities,” Yost said. “He’s a guy that can hit by a pitch and do exactly what he did, drive it out of the ballpark tonight, after getting hit in the neck. So it was a huge hit for us at that point.”
As the ball soared over the wall, Orioles reliever Darren O’Day flung his cap to the ground in frustration.
“I made a mistake and he got it,” the right-hander said. “You go up there and roll the dice. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”
It was Baltimore’s first playoff loss following a three-game sweep of Detroit in the Division Series.
“One game does not the series make,” Orioles catcher Nick Hundley said.
After Gordon connected in the 10th, Moustakas followed with another shot to right, this one off Brian Matusz with a runner on.
This best-of-seven series was billed as Kansas City’s speed against Baltimore’s power, but the Royals didn’t steal a base and hit all of the game’s three home runs.
“We know we’re capable of hitting home runs,” Gordon said. “We didn’t do it during the regular season. But it doesn’t really matter. This is the postseason and we’re starting to swing the bats better now. It’s good to see.”
The Orioles tried to rally in the 10th. Pinch-hitter Delmon Young hit an RBI single with two outs, but closer Greg Holland retired Nick Markakis on a grounder with two runners on for the final out in the rain shortly before 1 a.m.
Game 2 is Saturday afternoon. Rookie right-hander Yordano Ventura makes his second postseason start for the Royals against Bud Norris.
Wade Davis got the win with two shutout innings and Holland got a save.
Photo via H. Darr Beiser/USA TODAY Sports Images