After all the base stealing, bunts, and talk of small ball, it was a home run that proved to be the difference. Mike Moustakas, much maligned this season due to poor performance, thwomped a low pitch from Fernando Salas into the right field seats in the top of the 11th inning. The Royals should learn that for the sake of their fandom's health, they should win games in regulation fashion.
Let's not forget about the pitching, though. Despite the surprisingly shaky bullpen, the Royals held thumpers Mike Trout and Albert Pujols hitless in 10 plate appearances with 2 walks. If you had told me that before the game, I would have confidently predicted a Royals victory, but it wasn't without its typical myocardial infarction-inducing drama.
After the traditional baserunning blunder in the first inning (Nori Aoki got picked off after falling into a tar pit), the traditional ridiculous defensive play by Lorenzo Cain in the first inning, and the traditional Billy Butler GIDP in the second inning, the Royals opened the scoring events in the third inning. Mike Moustakas walked in a lovely display of plate discipline. Up came Alcides Escobar, who crushed a curveball to left field for a double. With two outs, Moustakas was able to score. No small ball necessary here. Walks and power.
The Angels then decided to show how most other teams score runs in the bottom half of the third. Jason Vargas had been dealing, but he left a meatball to Chris Iannetta, who blew the pitch over the left field wall. The scoring continued in the fifth with another laser home run from David Freese on another meatball pitch.
Before Freese's home run, though, the Royals did play a little small ball in the top of the fifth. Alex Gordon doubled and scored after two sacrifice flies from Salvador Perez and Omar Infante. No bunts, no steals, but sac flies count, right?
In a stunning display of...something...Vargas ran into a little trouble in the 6th inning after a single and a walk. We feared the worst; but, then, we saw that Kelvin Herrera was warming up, not someone else. In the 6th. Ned Yost went for a mound visit, which everyone thought meant that Herrera was coming in. FOOLED YOU. No. Vargas stayed in and finished the inning without any damage because Cain and Aoki tag-teamed a very deep fly ball. It was kind of like Hosmer's bomb in the Wild Card game, except our fielders caught the ball instead of each other. Vargas finished his night after only 80 pitches in 6 innings and gave up two runs on solo shots with one walk and two strikeouts. He gave up some strong contact, but outs are outs.
Herrera came in for the 7th inning and led off the inning with a walk. Unfortunately, Herrera immediately left the game with an apparent injury, which was a strained right forearm according to the telecast. With the game on the line, Yost called upon Brandon "Iceman" Finnegan to put out another fire. Finnegan got a sacrifice bunt (I guess the Angels weren't going to sit idle and let the Royals do all the small ball) and coaxed a ground out before another mound visit from Yost. Enter Wade Davis. Davis got a fly ball from C.J. Cron to right field. Nori Aoki, and I have no idea why he does this, took the most roundabout route to the ball. He made it to the fence and then had to go a few steps to his left before making a diving catch. Somebody's gotta teach that guy how to take routes, but he still made the catch and saved a run. Myocardial Infarction incidence rate: Moderate.
Davis put the first guy, Iannetta, on in the 8th with a walk. Trying to small ball again, the Angels had Calhoun show bunt a whole bunch. He ended up bunt-popping up to a charging Mike Moustakas. Karma, or something. Iannetta then moved up to second anyway on a wild pitch and/or passed ball that Perez couldn't find. Davis walked Mike Trout on a full count. With runners on 1st and 2nd and one out, Davis got Albert Pujols to pop up and struck out Howie Kendrick to end the threat. Myocardial Infarction incidence rate: High.
Huston Street and Joe Smith, two awkward righty relievers, completely shut down the Royals' offense in the 8th and 9th innings. Ned Yost responded by bringing in lefty Tim Collins to face two right-handed Angels in the bottom of the 9th. This would never backfire, right? Collins apparently nipped Gordon Beckham's shoelaces to put him on 1st base, and Erick Aybar immediately bunted him to second. Collins struck out Josh Hamilton because Hamilton follows a strict algorithm to determine which pitches at which to swing. It goes like this:
Pitcher throws pitch
After Hamilton struck out, Yost yanked Collins in favor of Jason Frasor to face Cron, who walked. Up came Iannetta, who blasted a homer earlier. Frasor induced a weak blegh-thing to Infante to end the threat in the 9th. Free playoff baseball. Again. Myocardial Infarction Incidence Rate: Very High
The Royals finally got some offense going in the 10th. Billy Butler walked, and Terrance Gore came in to pinch run. He swiped second, which caused the Angels to put Alex Gordon on first to set up the double play against Perez, who instead flied out to center. Infante popped out foul to end the Royals' chance to run wild to victory. Myocardial Infarction Incidence Rate: Extremely High
Danny Duffy and Greg Holland shut down the Angels in the 10th and 11th, and we know what happened then. Moose bomb.
Myocardial Infarction Incidence Rate: LUDICROUS SPEED, GO!