Two hours before the first pitch, Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas smiled and made the kind of wish he could not have expected to come true.
“Hopefully tonight I get to face Wade or Greg,” he said.
As it turned out, he faced both of his former teammates. First in the eighth, when he flew out to right on a first pitch fastball from Greg Holland that got too far in.
Then in the 10th, immediately after Robinson Cano’s home run, Moustakas struck out on the fourth cutter from Wade Davis.
Two tries against old friends, and two outs, but Moustakas was happy.
“I was definitely smiling, just laughing to myself,” he said. “Obviously this game is important but not as important. Maybe if we’re playing in the postseason I wouldn’t be laughing, but it was a lot of fun to face those guys.”
The at-bat against Davis was busy. He hit a foul scorcher into the photographer’s booth, the ball hitting a man hard enough that home plate umpire Joe West paused the game.
Moustakas went to a knee during the delay, then walked over to the photographer before continuing the plate appearance.
“I told him I was sorry,” Moustakas said. “Apologized a bunch. Obviously you never want to do that, but he seemed good, he said he was all right.”
All three Royals — Moustakas, pitcher Jason Vargas, and catcher Sal Perez — lockered next to each other. After the game, Perez was the first one dressed.
They all had different reasons to remember the night. Moustakas faced his friends. Vargas pitched a scoreless fourth inning, highlighted by a terrific throw from Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts that turned into a double play. Perez, as he tends to be, was a fixture in the middle of any celebration in the American League dugout.
“Love you, bro,” he said to Vargas, going in for a hug.
“Travel safe,” he said to Moustakas, with another hug.