BALTIMORE — These Kansas City Royals, and Alex Gordon in particular, are way more than just speed and singles.
Especially in extra innings.
Gordon hit a tiebreaking homer in the 10th inning, 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.
Earlier, 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.
But his most memorable moment came when he lined a pitch from Darren O’Day into the right-field seats. That was enough to provide the Royals with their fourth extra-inning victory in five games this postseason.
As the ball soared over the wall, O’Day flung his cap to the ground in frustration.
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.
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 either Wei-Yin Chen or Bud Norris.
Wade Davis got the win with two shutout innings and Holland got a save.
The fastest team in the majors nearly walked to victory in the ninth. After Orioles closer Zach Britton issued three straight walks to open the inning, Eric Hosmer into a force at the plate — helped by catcher Nick Hundley’s nifty pickup at the plate — and O’Day got Billy Butler to hit into a double play.
O’Day wasn’t nearly as effective in the 10th.
Down 5-1 in the fifth against James Shields, the Orioles scored three times as 47,124 towel-waving fans cheered them on. Nelson Cruz hit an RBI double before Ryan Flaherty delivered a two-out, two-run single.
Shields made it out of the inning, but did not return after giving up four runs and 10 hits.
The rain that was expected for much of the day finally made an appearance in the sixth, shortly before Baltimore pulled even against the usually reliable Kansas City bullpen. The tying run scored off Kelvin Herrera on a low popup by Alejandro De Aza that dropped behind the mound.
The Royals’ frustration showed in the seventh, when pinch-runner Jarrod Dyson complained about being called out at second on an attempted steal before Lorenzo Cain and Butler fumed over called third strikes.
Early on, Kansas City dominated.
After the Orioles left the bases loaded in the second inning, Alcides Escobar drove a 2-0 pitch from Chris Tillman into the left-field seats for the game’s first run. It was his 22nd homer in 2,994 career at-bats, including this postseason.
Kansas City then sandwiched two singles around a four-pitch walk to load the bases with two outs for Gordon, who lofted a broken-bat fly that landed about four feet inside the right-field foul line for a three-run double.
Orioles first baseman Steve Pearce, who couldn’t get a grip on a bouncing throw from shortstop J.J. Hardy earlier in the inning, clutched the top of his cap in dismay as the ball plopped into fair territory.
Gordon also hit a three-run double in the finale of Kansas City’s three-game sweep of the Angels in the Division Series.
Baltimore got an RBI single from Adam Jones in the bottom half, but a diving catch by Gordon prevented further damage. Shields thrust his arm in the air and pointed to Gordon, a Gold Glove winner in each of the past three years.
A sacrifice fly by Butler in the fifth made it 5-1.
Royals: In two starts against the Orioles this season, Ventura has a 1.26 ERA and 17 strikeouts in 14 1-3 innings.
Orioles: Baltimore tries to rebound from its first loss since Sept. 27. The last time the Orioles lost the opener of an ALCS game was when 12-year-old Jeffery Maier got involved with a Derek Jeter home run at Yankee Stadium in 1996.
The start of the game was delayed while the bright lights above a TV booth in center field were shut down, one by one.
Escobar was about the step into the batter’s box when he noticed the glaring bulbs in his sight line. While Tillman took a few extra warmup tosses, the song “Lights” by Journey played over the PA system.