Angels can't stand the heat in pressure cooker of Game 2 against Royals

Angels can't stand the heat in pressure cooker of Game 2 against Royals
Mike Trout looks around Angel Stadium after striking out in the 11th inning of the Angels' 4-1 loss to the Royals in Game 2 of the American League Division Series. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

The late-night cardiac kids were back at it Friday night at Angel Stadium, and we certainly aren't talking about the Angels.

The Kansas City Royals did it again. This time, it was a two-run homer by first baseman Eric Hosmer. It came in the 11th inning for a team that apparently doesn't know about proper bed times.

Hosmer's homer made the score 3-1 — the final was 4-1— and effectively poked a huge hole in the Angels' balloon. This is a best-of-five American League division series, and it made it 2-0, Royals, with the next two games in Kansas City.

The Royals had won their way into this position with an extra-inning victory in the AL wild-card game, coming back from four runs down against Oakland, and then winning in extra innings against the Angels on Thursday.


No, it's not over for the Angels, but the guy in charge of the bell in the church tower is about to ring the death knell. The vultures are circling.

There clearly is a team of destiny in this series, and it is not the star-studded Angels, who posted the best record in baseball in the regular season and were expected to be in the mix all the way to the World Series.

In fact, the talk and hype around here has been about what a great possibility there was this year for a Southern California Freeway World Series. Now, with the Dodgers also getting beat Friday and with no less than Clayton Kershaw getting banged around, you can almost hear Jim Mora Sr. poised to make his declaration.

"Freeway Series? Freeway Series? Are you kidding?"

The Angels hadn't been able to hit their way out of a paper bag but appeared to get a boost from Hall-of-Famer-to-be Albert Pujols, who came through in the clutch to tie the score at 1-1 in the sixth inning.

The Angels, whose bats are the only thing in Southern California at the moment that isn't hot, had frittered away chance after chance both Thursday night and the early part of the game Friday.

But when Pujols came to bat with Mike Trout on first and Kole Calhoun on second, he did not do what most of the other Angels had been doing recently in the clutch — fail. He singled through the right side of the infield and Calhoun scored.

It had been so long since that kind of inning had been put together — both Angels' runs in their 3-2 loss Thursday night were on solo home runs — that there was sudden joy for the Los Angeles Angels of Mudville.

But that was short-lived.

In the eighth, C.J. Cron led off with a double, Collin Cowgill was sent in as a pinch runner and Chris Iannetta came to the plate. A big inning was in the air.

Then Iannetta hit a medium depth fly ball to left center field and Jarrod Dyson, inserted that inning as a defensive replacement, wandered over to make the catch.

But, holy moly, Cowgill tagged up and took off for third, where he was easily gunned down by Dyson.

The air came out of the Angels' balloon, the Angels fans and all the compressors in the concession stands. There is aggressive baserunning and there is running oneself out of a game. And perhaps, in this case, a season.

In the 11th, Hosmer smacked his two-run homer off Kevin Jepsen and all the Angels had left to fall back on was the theory that they certainly have won three in a row many times this season and they can do it again.

The power of positive thinking is a good thing. A better thing is starting to actually hit the ball.

In the end, this was more like a stress test for the fans than a baseball game. A total of 45,361 came to the Big A to watch Friday night. Was this a baseball game or were they being locked in a small room, with bright lights turned on them and a fat, smelly guy with bad breath demanding answers? Pick the latter.

One must always search for good news. For the Angels, that is that one of their stars, Josh Hamilton, won't have to face the boos from his own fans for at least another five days. He is in the second year of a five year contract worth $125 million and his production this year — and last — has not been worth that price.

Angels fans are among the most player friendly, patient people in sports. But not anymore with Hamilton.

And then, there was the final straw. Superstar Mike Trout, who has yet to get a hit in the playoffs, but is still correctly getting a pass from the fans and may still be the league's MVP, ended the game by striking out in the bottom of the 11th.

For Angels fans, it was another ugly, frustrating night in a postseason that had promised so much.