BALTIMORE - The Royals didn't dispute the conventional wisdom that said this series would come down to their speed against the Orioles' power.
Still, they said, there is more to them than that. "We feel like our lineup and our team is very flexible," Eric Hosmer said. "We definitely have the speed guys to play small ball and move guys around and steal bases. But at the same time, we have guys that can leave this yard at any time."
Three Royals did just that Friday night as Kansas City earned an 8-6, 10-inning win over the Orioles in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series in front of 47,124 boisterous, orange-clad fans at Camden Yards.
Alex Gordon, whose two-out three-run double capped a four-run third, hit what seemed like the night's biggest homer at the time. He jumped on Darren O'Day's fastball with none out in the 10th, giving the Royals a 6-5 lead and prompting O'Day to fire his cap to the ground.
Mike Moustakas' two-run homer off Brian Matusz later in the inning made it 8-5, giving Royals closer Greg Holland a cushion he would need.
Holland posted a 1.44 ERA while recording 46 saves this season, but after retiring the first two Orioles in the bottom of the 10th, he allowed a single, a walk and an RBI single by pinch hitter Delmon Young. Nick Markakis -- who already had three hits and represented the winning run -- then grounded out to end it.
"They've been hitting home runs lately,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It is what it is. It's a good ballgame except the Orioles didn't win. I'm sure it was entertaining.''
Said Royals manager Ned Yost, "This is a park that's a lot more conducive to hitting home runs than our ballpark is. You put our club in this ballpark, we would have hit a lot more home runs than we ended up hitting. It showed tonight.''
The two 10th-inning homers -- Alcides Escobar hit the other one for the Royals, who had led 4-0 and 5-1 -- came an inning after Kansas City squandered a bases-loaded, none-out situation in the ninth.
With the score tied at 5-5, the Orioles' Zach Britton took the mound in the ninth and suddenly couldn't throw a strike. After getting ahead of Escobar 1-and-2, he tossed 11 straight balls to load the bases. But the Royals somehow failed to get a run home.
Hosmer grounded sharply to first and Steve Pearce fired home for the force play. Showalter then replaced his closer with the righthanded O'Day to face the righthanded-hitting and slow-footed Billy Butler. The move paid off as he grounded into a 6-4-3 double play.
But one inning later, the game turned in the Royals' favor.
Said Gordon, "We know we're capable of hitting home runs. We didn't do it during the regular season. But it doesn't really matter. This is the postseason and we're starting to swing the bats better now. It's good to see.''
The Royals -- who won their final three games in capturing the 1985 World Series, then failed to return to the postseason in the next 28 years -- are 5-0 this postseason after beating the A's in the wild-card game and sweeping the Angels in the ALDS.
The Royals' James Shields, still referred to as "Big Game James" for some reason despite bringing a 3-4, 4.91 ledger in eight previous postseason starts into the night, allowed four runs and 10 hits in five innings. The Orioles' Chris Tillman allowed five runs and seven hits in 41/3 innings.