Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas has reached a prominent place in franchise history after breaking Steve Balboni’s franchise record of 36 homers in a single season.
Besides home run No. 37 on Wednesday night in Toronto, The Star looked back at Moustakas’ most memorable homers in a Royals uniform.
The first major-league homer
Date: June 11, 2011
The result: In the second game of his career, Moustakas, 22, returned home to Southern California and hammered a solo homer against Angels starter Joel Pineiro. The Royals would lose the game 7-5 at Angel Stadium. Moustakas, one of the top young prospects in baseball, had arrived.
A walk-off against the Mariners
Date: Sept. 5, 2013
The result: This was Moustakas’ first game-winning homer. In the bottom of the 13th at Kauffman Stadium, Moustakas roped a solo shot down the right-field line and broke a 6-6 deadlock. The blast, which was against Mariners reliever Chance Ruffin, came just moments after Moustakas connected on a deep drive that went just foul. It pushed the Royals’ record to 73-67 as they moved toward their first winning season since 2003.
Moose sends a jolt through Anaheim
Date: Oct. 2, 2014
The result: Perhaps the most memorable hit of his life. Just days after a thrilling comeback victory over the Oakland A’s in the 2014 Wild Card Game, the Royals opened an American League Division Series in Anaheim. In the top of the 11th, Moustakas broke a 2-2 tie with a solo blast to right against reliever Fernando Salas. The Royals won 3-2 before notching another dramatic victory the next night and ultimately sweeping the series.
Another clutch blast in Baltimore
Date: Oct. 10, 2014
The result: In the opener of the 2014 American League Championship Series, the Royals remained tied 5-5 with the Orioles heading into the 10th inning. Alex Gordon famously opened the inning with a solo shot against reliever Darren O’Day, giving the Royals the lead. But moments later, Moustakas would add two insurance runs with a blast off Brian Matusz.
Gordon’s homer was the tie-breaker. But Moustakas’ homer ended up providing the decisive runs when the Orioles struck for a run in the bottom of the 10th.
A power surge in the 2014 ALCS
Date: Oct. 11, 2014
The result: One day after homering in extra innings, Moustakas went deep again with nobody on in the fourth inning against Baltimore’s Bud Norris. The solo shot put the Royals up 4-3. They would win 6-4 after scoring twice in the top of the ninth, taking a 2-0 lead in the series.
Grand slam caps career day at Camden Yards
Date: Sept. 12, 2015
The result: Remember Moustakas’ club-record nine-RBI game in Baltimore? On that day two years ago, the most damaging blow came on a grand slam in the top of the seventh against Baltimore’s T.J. McFarland. Moustakas pounced on an 0-2 pitch and sent the baseball soaring out to right. He added a two-run homer in the top of the ninth.
Homer into a fan’s glove in an iconic Game 6
Date: Oct. 23, 2015
The result: One inning after Ben Zobrist homered against David Price in the first inning, Moustakas stepped to the plate with one out in the second. On a 1-2 pitch, he cranked a line shot to deep right field, the baseball landing just over the wall in right and finding a home in the glove of a 19-year-old Royals fan.
The Blue Jays challenged the call, asking the umpiring crew to review for fan interference. But the homer stood; an aerial view appeared to show that the ball was not over the field of play when it was caught by the fan.
A punctuation in a World Series blowout
Date: Oct. 28, 2014
The result: Most Royals fans remember Game 6 of the 2014 World Series for the pitching performance of Yordano Ventura and a victory that ensured a Game 7 at Kauffman Stadium. But Moustakas capped an offensive onslaught with a solo homer against Hunter Strickland in the bottom of the seventh. As he returned to the dugout, he was greeted by teammate Eric Hosmer: “Homer in the World Series, baby!” It was his fifth long ball of the postseason.