KANSAS CITY -- Now that was a home-dinger.
Mike Moustakas knocked in three runs with a homer and a single, and the Royals ended their long winless start at home with a 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday night at Kauffman Stadium. The Royals had been 0-10 at home this season.
"It's a load off," said a relieved Royals manager Ned Yost.
"We said the whole time during the 10-game home streak that we wanted to come home and play good baseball for our fans. We didn't do it. We darn sure did it tonight."
Moustakas not only swung a damaging bat, but he capped off a marvelous defensive show in the ninth inning with a superb game-ending play.
It was a particularly tough night for the Yankees, who learned that closer Mariano Rivera's pregame knee injury might end his season, perhaps even his career.
"This is bad. There's no question about it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "This is not what you come to Kansas City for to hear. But good teams find a way to overcome. ... If we want to play in October, we've got to find a way to overcome this."
They couldn't overcome the Royals on this night, but they certainly made them sweat in the ninth inning.
Derek Jeter opened the Yankees' ninth with a single to right, his fourth hit, off closer Jonathan Broxton. Curtis Granderson drew a walk, but the Royals pulled off a classy double play, with second baseman Chris Getz diving to stop Mark Teixeira's shot up the middle and flipping to shortstop Alcides Escobar, who somehow got off a one-bounce throw that first baseman Eric Hosmer snagged for the second out.
"I haven't looked at a replay, but it was one of those that if I don't dive and it goes by me, I look like an idiot," Getz said.
But he didn't, nor did Escobar, nor did Hosmer.
"Hoz made an incredible scoop there. It was a clutch play all around," Getz said. "And then Moose's play, it was almost meant to be with the way the game went and what he did for us tonight. For him to finish it off was pretty good."
Ah, yes, Moose's play.
Broxton ran the count full on Alex Rodriguez before he hit a bouncer toward Moustakas, who rushed in from third base. It was a carbon copy of a bouncer that he'd failed to handle the inning before.
"As soon as I saw it hit, I thought, 'OK, here's your chance, I know you can make this play,'" Yost said. "And he made a phenomenal play."
Broxton, as he watched, wasn't quite so sure.
"Once he swung, I thought, 'Man, this is going to be close,' " Broxton said. "And once I saw Moose coming in and just the barehand, I thought, 'It's going to be a bang-bang [play], and I just hope he comes up with it clean.' And he did. It was a great play on his part."
"Moustakas has got ice in his veins," said winning pitcher Danny Duffy.
Igniting a chorus of "Mooooooose!" from the fans, Moustakas got the Royals' scoring started with a home run to dead center, a 420-foot solo shot, off Yankees right-hander David Phelps, a St. Louisan who was making his first Major League start. Hosmer drove in the second run with a single in the next inning, the third.
Then, in the fifth, after Phelps had departed, Moustakas came up with two outs and the bases loaded. He rapped reliever D.J. Mitchell's 2-0 pitch through the infield and into right for a two-run single.
Duffy, after an 11-day break, returned to earn the victory. He went 5 1/3 innings and gave up two runs.
"He couldn't command his curveball at all, but he was overpowering with his fastball. He pitched extremely well," Yost said. "That's a pretty steep task when you're going at 'em with two pitches, a fastball and a changeup. I can remember only one curveball he threw for a strike."
The only run that scored while Duffy was still on the mound came in the third, when Jeter got his 500th career double and Teixeira doubled him home.
"Jeter is just on fire. He's hitting everything we throw up there," Yost said. "He's hitting everything everybody's throwing up there -- hitting over .400."
But Moustakas is also smoking with a six-game hitting streak (9-for-23, .391) that has his average up to .318.
But never mind all that.
"The win is what sticks," Moustakas said. "We dropped 10 at home, and to come out in front of these fans, playing the Yankees, it's much better to get a 'W' that way."
For the first time all season, the home clubhouse was rocking with music and laughter.
"It's awesome, such a great feeling after such a bad stretch at home to have people coming in the door and smiling," Duffy said.
The Royals were just the third team in Major League history to lose their first 10 home games; the others were the 1913 Yankees, 0-17 with a tie, and the 1994 Chicago Cubs, 0-12. But now that's just unpleasant history.
"Hearing the fans in the ninth inning was like music to my ears, because I haven't heard that all year long and this is the 11th game, so it's pretty special," Yost said.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.