OMAHA, NE - If Mike Moustakas felt good Monday afternoon when learning he was named Texas League Player of the Year, just think how good he feels by Monday night. The 21-year old phenom, who goes by "Moose," led the Omaha Royals' 25-hit attack by going 4-for-6 with three home runs and a double, driving in eleven runs in a 23-5 romp over the Round Rock Express. The 2,310 fans on hand at Rosenblatt Stadium will likely be telling their grand kids about this one.
Facing one of the tougher pitchers in the PCL in Round Rock lefty Andy Van Hekken, who owned a 1.29 ERA in three previous starts this season against Omaha, the Royals trailed 2-0 after Edwin Maysonet homered for Round Rock in the second inning. Omaha scored three runs in the bottom of the second to take the lead.
That one-run advantage turned into a 12-run cushion in the bottom of the third, with Moustakas leading the charge. He belted a two-run homer to right-center to drive in the first two of eleven runs and later in the inning smacked a three-run shot over the center field wall. The Royals had nine other hits in the third inning, including a three-run homer off Lucas May's bat. The eleven runs were the most scored by Omaha in one inning since July 29, 1999 at Colorado Springs when the Golden Spikes used a 12-run third inning to nip the Sky Sox 13-11.
Moustakas is the first Royals batter to hit two home runs in an inning since Ramon Martinez connected twice in the first inning of a game at Rosenblatt on July 12, 1996 against the Buffalo Bisons, sending the Royals on their way to a 17-2 rout.
In the fourth inning Monday, "Moose" delivered a three-run double to left and in the seventh he capped Omaha's scoring on the night with a three-run shot to right-center field. That made him the first Omaha batter to mash three taters in one tilt since former Husker Ken Harvey did so on July 28, 2002 at Iowa. Since detailed team records were first kept in the 1989 season, no Omaha batter had eleven RBI in one game, until Monday. In fact, the record was eight RBI, set by Kit Pellow on June 8, 1999 at Tacoma.
The 23 runs scored by the Royals Monday were unmatched in those record books stretching back to '89. The Royals did score 22 runs on June 5, 1994 at Oklahoma City. In fact, Monday's 18-run margin of victory was the Royals' largest since that 22-1 laugher. And Omaha's 25 hits Monday were the most since 29 hits in that '94 game.
Royals starter Blaine Hardy (3-4) picked up the win, allowing five runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings. Van Hekken (7-8) suffered the loss, getting tagged for ten runs on nine hits in two-plus frames. His ERA jumped from 4.03 to 4.52.
Omaha (75-62) evened its record on the home stand to 5-5 and improved to 9-4 this season vs. Round Rock (55-82), which has lost six straight and nine of ten games.
Game two of the series is Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. Royals righty Anthony Lerew (7-4, 2.72) faces Express right-hander Jordan Lyles (0-1, 4.37).