The moment was seven years in the making, that flash of glory that awaits every kid showered with expectations and millions of dollars in a signing bonus.
The journey was not easy, but the reward was well worth it for Kansas City's
"That's probably the biggest hit I've ever had," Moustakas said. "It felt really amazing."
Moustakas grew up in the San Fernando Valley, cheering on Mike Piazza and Raul Mondesi with the Dodgers, starring at Chatsworth High. In the 2007 draft, when
He made his major league debut at
Not that Moustakas heard it, though.
"I wish I could have enjoyed it more," he said. "Everything happened so fast."
Not his success, though. His batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage have gone down in each of his three full major league seasons. The Royals sent him to triple-A in May, when he was batting .152, and they since have made their peace with a third baseman who has some pop and plays good defense.
And, as teammate
"You get up to the plate and you're looking at brand-new average," Hosmer said. "It kind of revives you."
Moustakas batted .212 in the regular season. He is batting .333 in the postseason after hitting an 85-mph pitch from
"I don't know what it was," Moustakas said. "I thought it was a fastball."
Amid the joy in the Royals' clubhouse, there was one somber note.
The back end of their bullpen — quite possibly the best in baseball — lines up with Herrera working the seventh inning,
Those days might be over, at least for the postseason and perhaps for next year as well. Herrera left with what the Royals initially called tightness in his right forearm. That often is the initial diagnosis in pitchers that ultimately require Tommy John surgery.
At the very least, Herrera's injury scrambled the Royals' plans for the late innings on Thursday.
For this night, the Royals had won, and the celebration was on. It had been 29 years since the Royals' previous postseason appearance, and it still has been 29 years since their last postseason loss.
Two more victories against the Angels, and the Royals advance to AL Championship Series. To do it, they might have to rebuild the back end of their bullpen on the fly.
But this postseason newbie stuff is refreshing, and a bit charming. Moustakas, asked the cliché question about how important it was for the Royals to win Game 1, paused to think about his answer.
Then he smiled, and answered honestly.