They have only played a single game of the ALCS, but the Baltimore Orioles must think proactively if they want to somehow snap the wild momentum the Kansas City Royals have generated and not end up like the Los Angeles Angels.
The Royals won their fifth-straight postseason game on Friday, claiming the game by an 8-6 extra innings score. It continues KC's unblemished record and hands Baltimore its first loss of October.
But it was Kansas City that gave up the early lead this time. The Royals put up four in the third inning against Baltimore starter Chris Tillman. Alcides Escobar broke first ground with a solo home run to left field. KC loaded the bases up after Escobar's dinger and Alex Gordon cleared them with a broken-bat hit down the right field line.
Adam Jones got one run back with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, but then Billy Butler lifted a sac fly two innings later to re-up the lead back to a four-run margin. Then the Orioles came level. Nelson Cruz and Ryan Flaherty drove in runs with RBI hits in the fifth and Alejandro De Aza made it 5-5 the inning later when his little cue-shot blooped over Brandon Finnegan and in front of Alcides Escobar at short.
The score stayed tied at five even when the Orioles' bullpen gave the Royals a golden opportunity to seize control in the ninth. Zach Britton came on for the ninth and proceeded to walk the first three hitters of the Kansas City lineup.
The walks to Escobar, Dyson and Cain put excellent speed on the bases for Kansas City's four and five hitters. But Eric Hosmer grounded into a force out at home and the Orioles brought on ground ball specialist Darren O'Day. The submariner induced a ground ball from Billy Butler and Baltimore turned the 6-4-3 double play to escape the major jam.
Meanwhile Wade Davis breezed through the eighth and ninth innings for KC. Davis needed just 18 pitches to retire all six batters he faced - four by way of the strikeout. And he put himself in line for the win when the Royals broke through in the 10th.
10th inning drama
Home runs from Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas made it 8-5 and all but clinched the game for Kansas City from there. Gordon's homer broke the tie and Moustakas' gave the road team another two insurance runs. Greg Holland did give up a couple of hits and a run in the bottom of the inning, but earned his first save of the series with the last three outs.
Game two will be played Saturday, in the late afternoon. Yordano Ventura takes on Bud Norris at Camden Yards.
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