The Kansas City Royals rolled to an 8-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep over Los Angeles in the ALDS and securing a spot in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles.
The Angels jumped on the scoreboard first. With one out in the first, Mike Trout crushed a James Shields fastball that stayed over the middle of the plate into the left field fountains for a solo homer, his first hit of the series. Shields was attempting to work Trout inside, like other KC pitchers have done successfully this postseason, but did not locate the pitch.
The Royals responded with a rally in the bottom half of the inning. Norichika Aoki and Lorenzo Cain smacked consecutive one-out singles, then Billy Butler drew a walk to load the bases. That set the stage for some Alex Gordon heroics, and the Royals' best player delivered, blasting a bases clearing double that was just a few feet short of a grand slam.
Mike Scioscia decided he had seen enough of C.J. WIlson after the Gordon double, pulling the Angels starter after 2/3 of an inning. I repeat, THE ROYALS CHASED THE OPPOSING TEAM'S STARTER IN THE PLAYOFFS AFTER TWO OUTS. It was meant to be a spectacular night.
Kansas City added more runs in the bottom half of the third. Aoki led off the inning with a walk, then Eric Hosmer crushed a two-run bomb, depositing a Hector Santiago offering to deep left-center field, nearly the same spot where he hit his triple in the Wild Card game.
Butler followed with a walk, then swiped second base while Gordon was at the plate, his first stolen base since 2012. It didn't end up leading to anything, but still, BILLY BUTLER STOLE A BASE!
Los Angeles narrowed the Royals lead in the top half of the fourth inning. Albert Pujols blasted a solo shot to leadoff the frame, his 19th postseason homer.
Shields did not allow any more runs after Pujols' homer, but the Angels had two runners on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. The right-hander did not pitch particularly well all night, laboring for six innings, but only surrendered two runs. It didn't look pretty from Shields, but I'm not going to argue with the results.
The Royals defense also helped their starter, especially Cain. The best outfield defender in baseball made two spectacular catches back-to-back in the fifth inning, which are brought to us couresty cjzero:
If Cain doesn't win the Gold Glove this season, just burn it all to the ground.
The Angels may have struggled to plate runners, but the Royals offense kept on rolling. Mike Moustakas blasted a solo homer off Mike Morin (Shawnee Mission South Grad) with one out in the fourth inning. Alcides Escobar then followed with a single, and scored in a manner we are more accustomed to seeing; he advanced to second on a wild pitch, then an Aoki infield single moved him to third before a Cain sacrifice fly drove him in.
Omar Infante decided he needed to get in on the run-scoring fun as well, leading off the sixth inning with a walk. The Royals, for the most part, did a nice job laying off bad balls from Anaheim pitchers, which always makes the game more visually appealing. Infante advanced to second on an Esocar single, then scored on an Aoki single.
Ned Yost turned to Kelvin Herrera in the top of the seventh despite the 8-2 lead. Herrera, who left ALDS Game 1 with a right flexor strain, looked completely healthy and turned in a perfect inning. I would've been OK not using Herrera in this game, but it was certainly reassuring to see him healthy, and the Royals will not play again until Friday, giving him more time to recuparate.
Wade Davis and Greg Holland each did their thing in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, although not without some excitement. Davis allowed the first two baserunners to reach against him and ended up surrendering a run, but still recorded two strikeouts. Holland, on the other hand, retired the Angels in order to send KC into the next round.
We have to wait until Friday for the next Royals game, which doesn't seem fair. The team will travel to Camden Yards for their first two games against the Orioles in the ALCS. Tonight, however, let's celebrate what the Royals have accomplished; a three-game sweep over the team that won the most games during the regular season. Enjoy this victory, Kansas City, then let's get pumped for eight more.