Royals pick up Finnegan after bumpy season debut

Royals pick up Finnegan after bumpy season debut

CLEVELAND -- It was the sixth inning and the Royals were clinging to a tiny lead, and up stepped Brandon Moss for the opponent.

Bam. Three-run homer by Moss, off a rookie Royals pitcher.

No, it wasn't a repeat of the 2014 American League Wild Card Game, though the situation was eerily similar. Last year, Moss was with the A's and he whacked a Yordano Ventura fastball for a three-run homer at Kauffman Stadium during that wacky Wild Card affair.

This time, with Moss in an Indians uniform, rookie Brandon Finnegan was called upon by manager Ned Yost to get the out. Like Ventura before him, Finnegan couldn't get the job done.

"I was just trying to make a good pitch and get him to hit into a double play," Finnegan said.

Moss' three-run blast

But a Finnegan sinker stayed up and Moss clobbered it, giving the Indians a 5-3 lead. But also like the Wild Card Game, it wasn't enough. The Royals stormed back again, winning this time, 11-5.

"It was just the one pitch I left up," Finnegan said. "He's punished it before."

Finnegan, though, picked up his first career regular-season victory.

"I definitely wanted it to come on better terms," he said. "But the team had my back. We came back and got six in the next inning. That's the type of team we have -- they never stop fighting."

Finnegan, who was making his first appearance of the season, said he had the jitters and a little bit of rust. He hadn't pitched for 10 days.

"A little bit of both," he said. "I was definitely nervous for the first time in a while. High-pressure situation."

Nervous? The kid who pitched in the College World Series and the World Series in the same year was nervous about a game in April?

"Last year was a long year," he said. "This year, I wanted to do good and stay up here. We'll see."

Jeffrey Flanagan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.