The happiest place on Earth on Thursday night was supposed to be just a mile or so down the street from the Happiest Place on Earth. The best fireworks were going to be at the Big A.
That's because the
But all that went out the window when a No. 9 hitter, a local guy from Chatsworth High named
It was the first time in Royals history that they had hit a home run in extra innings in a playoff game. Remember, this was the team with the fewest home runs in the major leagues this season.
And so, the sold-out crowd filtered out of the exits with doused expectations and heavy hearts. This is a five-game series, not seven. Losing the opener at home is a scary deal for Angels fans.
The game was tighter than the cork on a bottle of wine. The Angels wore out the Rally Monkey. Also the 45,321 fans.
It also wore out people's patience. The game took 4 hours 5 minutes and was a prime example of why retiring Commissioner
As things got tighter at the end, the pitchers seemed to throw more to first than to the plate. The Royals seemed to have a strategy to slow things down against the top Angels players, especially
One especially effective tactic was multiple visits to the mound by the Royals catcher. They had more meetings out there than the United Nations.
Nothing came easily against a team that was still flying high from one of the more incredible baseball games ever played, their 9-8 win in 12 innings Tuesday night in Kansas City in the AL wild-card elimination game.
They beat the
At this stage, the Royals deserve to file a complaint with the wage-and-hour people.
An example of the game's drama was the Angels' eighth. It was what is known as a fans-tear-their-hair-out inning.
Chris Iannetta, who had one of two Angels hits at that point — and one of the two Angels homers, along with
Leadoff hitter Kole Calhoun, trying to sacrifice Iannetta to second, worked the count to 3-1 and then popped up a bunt to third base.
That was OK. Trout, the best player in the AL, was up. He was due, 0 for 3 at that point, still looking for his first postseason hit.
He swung and missed twice and looked overmatched by Davis' hard stuff. Then he fouled a few off and eventually worked a walk.
So it was runners on first and second,
Now, two outs, two on for
This time, it was less dramatic. Kendrick fanned.
The Angels had the fans on the edge of their seats again in the ninth. Gordon Beckham, who had pinch-run for Freese in the seventh, started things when his back foot just got tapped by a pitch.
The longer the game went, and the further the Angels got from their now used-up relief pitching stars —
The game ended, perhaps fittingly, on a popout by Hamilton. More boos.
Ten minutes after the game ended, a gathering of perhaps 100 Royals fans crowded around the visiting dugout and chanted and celebrated.
The Royals were everything they were expected to be. They don't beat you. They just keep nicking you until you bleed to death.
Four games to go. Probably enough blood still left in their veins for the Angels to bounce back.