KANSAS CITY -- Baseball fans will not remember the name of the kid who caught the ball that was belted by Mike Moustakas on Friday night. What might be remembered is his beard, or the celebratory selfie that followed his grab and was caught on the national broadcast.
This was not, however, a Steve Bartman or Jeffrey Maier moment in baseball history. Moustakas' shot to the top of the wall in right-center field was examined by instant-replay reviews, and it stood as called as a home run, and a key one at that, in the second inning of the Royals' 4-3 triumph over the Blue Jays in Game 6 of the American League Championship Series.
"They called it a home run," Moustakas said. "So, it was a home run."
As Kansas City prepares for its second straight World Series trip, that is all that matters.
With one out in the second, Moustakas lifted a 1-2 changeup from Blue Jays ace David Price to right-center field. It carried 391 feet and landed in the glove of a fan clad in a Royals-blue sweatshirt. He, along with one of his neighbors in the first row, reached over the silver railing at Kauffman Stadium, but their gloves remained just above the lip of the padded wall.
The ball struck the fan's glove and the force of the fly pushed the leather to the padding. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons took no chances, challenging the ruling of a home run nearly immediately after Moustakas rounded the bases. The umpires convened, conferred with the Major League Baseball crew in New York and the call stood to give the Royals a 2-0 lead. With an exit velocity of 109.2 mph according to Statcast™, it was Moustakas' hardest-hit homer of the season.
"They took it to New York. They did the right thing," Gibbons said. "We appreciate that. With that fencing, it's recessed a little bit and they thought it was going to be a home run, anyway. They made the call on that."
From right field, Toronto outfielder Jose Bautista was not sure it was a homer.
"From where I was looking, my point of view, it seemed like the ball never left the yard," Bautista said. "So the ball, I felt, from where I was looking, got pulled into the home-run territory, inside of a baseball glove that a fan owns. But, I haven't seen every angle, so it's hard for me to say that they made a mistake."
Blue Jays left fielder Ben Revere also did not agree with the ruling.
"The guy reached over. I saw him," Revere said. "If you reach over the fence, it may have gone out. But, it may have hit the fence and gone up and come back. You never know. You see the fan reach over and catch the ball. I'm thinking that should've been an automatic double."
As the umpires awaited the ruling on the play, Royals general manager Dayton Moore was not sure what to expect.
"I wasn't sure what the situation would be," Moore said. "Obviously, that play has been reviewable for some time. I don't get caught up in that, and, for the most part, our organization doesn't get caught up in whether the umpires make the right call or the wrong call. You've just got to go play and execute and take advantage of situations. That play is out of our hands."
Off the bat, Moustakas was not sure it was going to clear the wall.
"I knew it was going to be in the gap," Moustakas said. "I didn't know if it was going to carry out of the yard. It ended up getting out of there, barely. I've seen a couple different replays. One of them looks like it got over on the top view, that it was able to get over the wall."
When it was all said and done, Royals manager Ned Yost was just thrilled to have the shot come off the bat of the man affectionately referred to in Kansas City as Moose.
"Every hit that he's gotten in these playoffs has been a huge hit," Yost said. "He hasn't got a lot of them, but every hit that he's gotten has been a huge hit. And tonight I expected him to kind of do something special tonight, and he did."