KANSAS CITY’S Eric Hosmer celebrates after scoring on a single by Christian Colon during the 12th inning of the AL wild-card playoff baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals will face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the Divisional round beginning on Thursday.

KANSAS CITY’S Eric Hosmer celebrates after scoring on a single by Christian Colon during the 12th inning of the AL wild-card playoff baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals will face the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the Divisional round beginning on Thursday.

KANSAS CITY, Mo.

Back in the playoffs after 29 years, the Kansas City Royals ran wild and outlasted Oakland in a thrilling opener to baseball’s postseason.

Salvador Perez singled home the winning run with two outs in the 12th inning, capping two late comebacks that gave Kansas City a 9-8 victory Tuesday night in the AL wild-card game.

Quite a start to October baseball — even if this one appeared to be over with plenty of time to spare in September. But in a backand forth epic that lasted 4 hours, 45 minutes, the A’s lost their seventh straight winner-take-all playoff game since 2000.

It was the final collapse in a season that looked so promising this summer.

“This will go down as the craziest game I’ve ever played,” said Eric Hosmer, who sparked the final Royals rally with a one-out triple. “This team showed a lot of character. No one believed in us before the game. No one believed in us before the season.”

Making their first postseason appearance since winning the 1985 World Series, the Royals are sticking around. They’ll open their best-of-five AL Division Series on the road Thursday night against the AL West champion Los Angeles Angels.

After falling behind by four runs, the Royals raced back with their speed on the bases — they led the majors with 153 steals this season. Kansas City swiped seven bags in this one to tie a postseason record previously shared by the 1907 Chicago Cubs and 1975 Cincinnati Reds, according to STATS.

The biggest one came in the 12th.

Hosmer scored the tying run on a high chopper to third by rookie Christian Colon, who reached safely on the infield single and then stole second with two outs.

Perez, who was 0 for 5 after squandering two late chances to drive in key runs, reached out and pulled a one-hopper past diving third baseman Josh Donaldson. Colon scored easily, and the Royals rushed out of the dugout for a mad celebration.

The A’s raced out to a 7-3 lead by the sixth inning, but the Royals countered with three runs in the eighth. Nori Aoki’s sacrifice fly off Sean Doolittle in the ninth forced extra innings.

Kansas City squandered chances in the next couple of innings, as midnight came and went on the East Coast and the tension continued to build. Rookie left-hander Brandon Finnegan, just drafted in June, pitched two scoreless innings but walked Josh Reddick to start in the 12th.

Pinch-hitter Alberto Callaspo delivered an RBI single off Jason Frasor to put the A’s ahead 8-7.

Hosmer hit a drive high off the left-center wall against Dan Otero for a leadoff triple in the bottom half, and Colon drove him in with a bouncer that barely traveled 50 feet.

That set the stage for Perez, who lined a pitch from Jason Hammel just inside the third-base line.


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