He set home run records in high school and became a prodigious slugger in the minor leagues. But on Friday night at Target Field, Mike Moustakas etched his name in Royals lore, matching a dubious franchise power mark that lasted for 32 years.
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Moustakas clubbed his 36th home run of the year off Minnesota’s Dillon Gee in the third inning, pulling even with Steve Balboni for the most in a single season in Royals history.
The record-tying, three-run blast gave the Royals a 5-2 lead as they opened a three-game series in Minnesota. It landed in the seats down the right-field line. It propelled Moustakas into a permanent place in franchise history, the man who finally matched one of Kansas City’s most hallowed and humbling numbers.
For decades, Balboni’s record of 36 homers, set in 1985, has stood as a testament to the Royals’ lack of power and home run prowess, a truth that persisted through baseball’s Steroid Era, through different managers and eras, through a long stretch in which the fences were moved in at Kauffman Stadium.
When Balboni hit 36 homers, helping the Royals to the 1985 World Series, Moustakas was still three years from being born in Southern California.
On Wednesday, he ended a stretch of 12 games without a homer, battling through a sore right knee and hammering a four-seam fastball into the history books.