Mike Moustakas homers in 11th inning to lead Royals past Angels in Game 1 of ALDS

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Thanks to a go-ahead solo home run from Mike Moustakas, the Royals topped the Angels 3-2 in 11 innings in Game 1 of the ALDS this evening at Angel Stadium of Anaheim.

The Royals grabbed the early lead in this one after Alcides Escobar hit an RBI double off Jered Weaver in the top of the third inning, but the Angels quickly responded with a Chris Iannetta solo homer against Jason Vargas. Omar Infante put Kansas City back in front on a sacrifice fly in the top of the fifth, but David Freese homered in the next-half inning to tie the score again. It would remain tied until Moustakas’ blast in the 11th.

The Angels had chances to put this game away, but the Royals were bailed out by a pair of circus catches from Nori Aoki in the sixth and seventh innings. Royals manager Ned Yost made some interesting decisions in this game, most notably by hanging with Vargas in the sixth and using — and sticking with — Tim Collins in the ninth and Danny Duffy in the 10th, but it didn’t come back to bite him. Then came the decisive blow from Moustakas, who led off the 11th with a home run against Fernando Salas. It was actually the first hit for the Royals since way back in the fifth inning. It was also Moustakas’ first home run since August 25. Greg Holland, who probably should have been used earlier in the game, pitched a perfect bottom of the 11th to lock down the victory for the Royals.

Including their win over the A’s in the Wild Card Game this week, the Royals are just the third team to begin the playoffs with two extra-inning wins. The 1979 Pirates and the 1969 Orioles are the only others. I hope you have stocked up on antacids, Royals fans.

The Royals and Angels will meet at 9:37 p.m. ET on Friday night for Game 2. Yordano Ventura will start for Kansas City and Matt Shoemaker will pitch for Los Angeles.

Rakuten Golden Eagles sign Jabari Blash

Jabari Blash
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Former Angels outfielder Jabari Blash has signed a one-year deal with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Nippon Professional Baseball, the team announced Friday. Per the Japan Times, the deal is said to be worth around $1.06 million. Blash was released from his contract with the Angels at the end of November.

The 29-year-old outfielder has had a rough go of it in the majors, where he failed to duplicate the promising results he delivered in the minors. While he consistently batted above .250 with 20-30 home runs per season at the Double- and Triple-A level, he petered out in back-to-back gigs with the Padres and Angels and slumped toward a .103/.200/.128 finish across 45 PA for Anaheim in 2018.

The hope, of course, is that the environment in NPB will help him get a better handle on his issues at the plate — in a best case scenario, resulting in a full-scale transformation that could make him more marketable to MLB teams in the future. To that end, Blash expects to be utilized as a cleanup batter in the Eagles’ lineup and will focus on assisting the club as they make a run toward the Japan Series.