Mike Moustakas said he never had hit a “walkoff anything” before Thursday afternoon. With the Kansas City Royals never having made the playoffs since Moustakas was born, he might as well start now.
Moustakas hit a long home run in the 13th inning to break a tie with the Seattle Mariners and give the Royals a desperately needed 7-6 victory at Kauffman Stadium. Moustakas’ 11th homer of the season came on an 0-2 pitch by Chance Ruffin, a holdover from the Doug Fister trade who was making his first major league appearance since 2011.
With 22 games remaining on the schedule, Kansas City is five games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the AL’s last playoff spot. Coolstandings.com gives K.C., which hasn’t made the playoffs since winning the World Series in 1985, a 5.5 percent chance of reaching the postseason. Moustakas, whose 25th birthday is next week, was still three years from being born when George Brett, Bret Saberhagen and Buddy Biancalana beat the Cardinals and won the Commissioner’s Trophy in the I-70 Series.
After a miserable first half, Moustakas has hit much closer to expectations in the second half — .288/.336./.448, with four homers in 137 plate appearances. Two or three more walkoff hits for Moose over the final three weeks would get the Royals a lot closer to realizing their postseason expectations.
Most of Kansas City’s playoff possibilities rest with the wild card. The Detroit Tigers come to Kauffman for three games starting Friday, but the Royals are eight games behind them (not to mention in third place). Still, they can’t be in a better state of mind with the division leaders coming to town.
It would be bad news for the Royals if catcher Salvador Perez missed the Tigers series, or longer, because of concussion symptoms. Perez left the Mariners game, experiencing “mild dizziness,” after taking a foul tip off his facemask. Perez suffered a concussion earlier this season after a similar incident.