Yep, they did it again: Royals beat O's in ALCS Game 1 with homers in extra innings
A week's worth of buildup led to this. Orioles. Royals. Camden Yards. ALCS Game 1.
The clubs had their rotations and bullpens well rested, given that both teams' ALDS wrapped up Sunday. Right-hander Chris Tillman got the ball for the O's on Friday, while righty James Shields did so for Kansas City -- his second consecutive start after winning the Royals' clincher against the Angels.
With the Royals already leading 1-0 on an Alcides Escobar homer in the third inning, Alex Gordon extended that lead to 4-0 in a familiar fashion: a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double, featuring Billy Butler hustling home all the way from first -- just as was the case in Game 3 of the ALDS.
However, the O's started to mount a comeback in the bottom of the third. Adam Jones laced an RBI single to left to plate Nick Markaksis, who led off the inning with a double, thus bringing the score to 4-1.
Then, Baltimore responded to a Butler sacrifice fly in the fifth by plating three more runs to narrow the deficit to 5-4 in the bottom half of the frame. Nelson Cruz doubled to score Alejandro De Aza, and Ryan Flaherty followed suit with a two-run single to right.
With much of the pre-series talk surrounding the Royals' speed and the Orioles' power, it was somewhat ironic that Baltimore tied the game in the sixth via some accidental small ball. Jonathan Schoop walked, moved to second on Markakis' single and was credited with a steal of third when the throw from second bounced off his back.
De Aza knocked a bloop over the mound to bring Schoop home for a 5-5 tie.
The American League Blooper Series.- Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) October 11, 2014
Baltimore closer Zach Britton almost gave the Royals the lead in the ninth by walking the first three batters he faced, but after forcing an Eric Hosmer groundout, side-armer Darren O'Day entered to face Butler and hopefully induce a double play. Manager Buck Showalter's plan worked to perfection, and the Orioles made it out of the inning unscathed:
Gordon waited all of three pitches in the 10th before giving the Royals a 6-5 lead on a home run to right off of O'Day.
Mike Moustakas tacked on two more big runs with a long ball of his own, this one off of Brian Matusz for an 8-5 lead.
The Royals had one extra-inning homer during the entire regular season. They have two tonight -- and four in five postseason games.- Paul Casella (@paul_casella) October 11, 2014
The Game Changer
In the bottom of the ninth -- with KC fresh off blowing a bases-loaded, no-out scoring opportunity -- Kansas City setup man Wade Davis gave the Royals another chance by striking out the side to send the game to extras. De Aza, Jones and Cruz all went down swinging.
Davis also set the O's down in order in the eighth in relief of Kelvin Herrera, who himself tossed a pair of scoreless frames. That clutch performance set the stage for Gordon and Moustakas' blasts.
Other Key Players, Plays
The Royals got the scoring started Friday with -- what else? -- a homer. Escobar's shot to left in the third inning was good for a 1-0 lead.
With one Baltimore run home and the O's threatening for more in the bottom of the third, Gordon snuffed out the rally with a sliding catch to prevent further damage. That grab robbed Steve Pearce of extra bases.
Herrera evaded trouble in the sixth thanks to a double play off the bat of Cruz.
A familiar script unfolded for the Royals in the top of the seventh: Nori Aoki drew a walk, and pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson was called into action. After some cat-and-mouse with pitcher Kevin Gausman, Dyson took off for second. This time, though, Dyson came off the bag and was called out.
Delmon Young -- apparently looking for the right to be called the best pinch-hitter ever -- came through in the bottom of the 10th, this time with an RBI single to center. But closer Greg Holland got Markakis to ground out to end the rally and the game:
The Royals remain undefeated in this postseason. Because, baseball.- Jane Lee (@JaneMLB) October 11, 2014
The teams get about 15 hours off before Game 2. That will come at 4 p.m. Saturday at Camden Yards, when Royals rookie Yordano Ventura will try to help KC to a 2-0 series lead. He limited the Angles to one run in seven innings during Game 2 of the ALDS.
Opposite Ventura will be Baltimore's Bud Norris. Manager Buck Showalter waited until after Game 1 to announce Norris as the starter, but the right-hander certainly deserves it: Sunday against the Tigers, Norris threw 6 1/3 shutout innings in his postseason debut.
From @paul_casella: This is 14th time LCS Game 1 has gone to extras. In previous 13, winning team went on to win the series all 13 times.- Anthony Castrovince (@castrovince) October 11, 2014