ANAHEIM, California (Reuters) - Mike Moustakas delivered the game-winning home run in the top of the 11th inning as the Kansas City Royals rallied to another extra-inning win, edging the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 in the playoff series opener on Thursday.
After scratching to their first post-season in 29 years, the Royals grabbed the advantage on the favored Angels in the best-of-five American League divisional series.
The triumph comes two days after Kansas City rallied to win the one-game Wild Card playoff over Oakland 9-8 in 12 innings.
Kansas City had not registered a hit since the fifth inning, and only had four on the night, when Moustakas blasted a pitch from Fernando Salas over the right field fence.
“This is unbelievable. We’re having a lot of fun in our first post-season,” Moustakas told reporters.
“I was doing whatever I could to get on base and let those guys (behind me) do their magic. I was fortunate enough to hit one out.”
Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas pitched six innings and allowed just two runs behind great defensive plays from his team mates, before Kansas City used seven relievers to close the game.
The Angels hit the ball hard with runners in scoring position, but Kansas City came up with saving plays. Lorenzo Cain had a pair of stellar catches in center field, while right fielder Nori Aoki made dramatic catches to end the sixth and seventh innings with Los Angeles threatening.
“This game was won by Kansas City with four defensive plays,” said Angeles manager Mike Scioscia.
“I think we swung the bats better than what numbers will show.”
Los Angeles, who finished with the best record in the regular season, had home runs from Chris Iannetta and David Freese in the defeat.
The Royals took the lead in the top of the third and fifth innings only to see the Angels tie it in each bottom half.
MVP candidate Mike Trout went 0-for-4 in his playoff debut and the Angels also managed just four hits.
Starter Jered Weaver tossed seven innings and struck out six in the no-decision.
In the day’s earlier game, Baltimore blasted Detroit 12-3 to take the opener of the best-of-five American League divisional series.
The Orioles erupted for eight runs in the eighth inning to make a winner out of starter Chris Tillman, who tossed five innings.
Nelson Cruz had three RBIs and Alejandro De Aza added two for Baltimore.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles. Editing by Patrick Johnston