The Royals remain undefeated this postseason after toppling the Orioles 8-6 in 10 innings in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. The game marked the fourth time in five games that Kansas City has played into extra innings, with three of them coming on the road, including Game 1 in Baltimore.
Alex Gordon struck the decisive blow with a solo home run off Orioles righty Darren O'Day to lead off the top of the 10th to break a 5-5 tie. It was Gordon’s heroics that book-ended Kansas City’s victory. After Alcides Escobar started the scoring with a solo home run off Baltimore starter Chris Tillman in the top of the third, Gordon’s two-out, full-count, broken-bat double with the bases loaded later that inning initially broke the game open for the Royals by giving them an early 4-0 lead. The Orioles got one run back in the bottom of the third only to have Gordon stifle their rally with a sliding, inning-ending catch of a drive to the leftfield gap by Steve Pearce.
The Royals got that run back in the top of the fifth, but the tenor of the game changed in the bottom of the fifth, when the Orioles rallied against Kansas City starter James Shields. The O's pushed across three in the inning to climb within one run at 5-4, with the key hit being a two-out double by Ryan Flaherty that plated the third and fourth Baltimore runs. The Orioles then tied the game in the bottom of the sixth, as ninth-place hitter Jonathan Schoop drew a walk off Royals lefty Brandon Finnegan, then came home after singles by Nick Markakis and Alejandro De Aza.
In the top of the ninth, Orioles closer Zach Britton walked the first three men he faced, including Jarrod Dyson (who had pinch-run for Nori Aoki in the seventh only to over-slide second base on his steal attempt) and Lorenzo Cain on a total of eight pitches despite the fact that both were trying to lay down sacrifice bunts. However, Britton and O’Day wriggled out of the jam via ground balls off the bats of Eric Hosmer (a force-out at home) and Billy Butler (an inning-ending double play). Fortunately for the Royals, the relief pitching of Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis, who combined to record 12 straight outs after De Aza’s game-tying single off Finnegan, gave the Royals all the chances they needed to take the lead.
In the 10th, facing fellow lefty Brian Matusz with one out and Salvador Perez on base via a walk, Mike Moustakas added two insurance runs with his third home run of this postseason. Those proved crucial as Kansas City closer Greg Holland gave up a two-out run in the bottom of the 10th and had the tying runs on base before finally getting Markakis, who was 3-for-5 on the night, to ground out to second for the final out.
The Royals will sent rookie Yordano Ventura to the mound for Game 2 Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. The Orioles announced after the game that Bud Norris will get the start.