Royals 3, Angels 2, final
Mike Moustakas connected on a 85-mph Fernando Salas changeup for a home run to give the Royals the go-ahead run. The ball barely made it over the fence, but it was enough to put the Angels in a pressure spot in the bottom of the eleventh.
The Angels went down meekly in the bottom of the 11th, with the umpires making a bad call on Erick Aybar, who clearly checked his swing on what was called a swinging strike three for the second out of the inning. Josh Hamilton, who seemed baffled at the plate all night, popped out to end the game. Game 2 is Friday at 6:30 p.m. Ventura vs. Shoemaker.
Angels 2, Royals 2, end of 10th inning
A Billy Butler walk with one out brought out the Royals’ most dangerous weapon: speed. Terrance Gore pinch ran for Butler and quickly stole second base. A single would put the Angels behind. But Kevin Jepsen pitched out the game by getting a fly out and a pop out to avoid damage.
The Angels squandered a leadoff hit by Kole Cahoun. Again, the heart of the order couldn’t get the job done. Trout grounded into a fielder’s choice, Pujols popped out to the first baseman and Kendrick struck out.
Angels 2, Royals 2, end of ninth inning
Closer Huston Street came in for the ninth for the Angels and made quick work of the top of the Royals order. He went strike out, fly out, ground out for the 1-2-3 inning . This one will either be a walk-off win for the Angels or an extra-inning loss.
The Angels threatened again but came away with nothing. This game is headed to extra innings. Gordon Beckham led off with a hit by pitch, after the ball apparently grazed his shoe. Aybar sacrificed him to second. Hamilton had a shot to be the hero, but he struck out. After a Cron walk, Iannetta grounded out to second to end the inning.
Angels 2, Royals 2, end of eighth inning
Joe Smith came on in relief of Weaver, who ended his night with two earned runs, three hits and six strikeouts over seven innings. Smith induced a strikeout and two fly outs to retire the 12th consecutive Royals batter.
Davis returned for the eighth, though he hadn’t pitched more than one inning in a game since May 29. He walked the leadoff hitter, Iannetta, but Calhoun failed to advance him for Trout when he popped up a bunt attempt for an out. Trout walked, but Pujols popped out and Kendrick struck out to end the threat.
Angels 2, Royals 2, end of seventh inning
Weaver retired the side in order again and has now retired nine batters in a row.
After replacing Vargas, Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera was removed from the game with an apparent injury after facing one batter in the seventh inning. After walking David Freese, trainers attended to him on the mound, and he was replaced by Brandon Finnegan, the 2014 draft pick. With two out, Wade Davis, the set-up man, replaced Finnegan. He induced C.J. Cron into hitting a long fly ball, again to Aoki, who made a rather routine fly ball interesting before recording the out.
Angels 2, Royals 2, end of sixth inning
Weaver retired the top of the Royals’ lineup in order with two strikeouts and a fly out to Trout. Aoki highlighted the inning with one of the worst third-strike swings these playoffs will likely see.
The Angels threatened in the bottom half but came away with nothing. Calhoun had the team’s first non-home-run base hit of the game, and advanced to second on a walk. With two outs, Kendrick hit a drive to right field, but again, the Royals’ defense shined. Aoki made a stabbing grab at the wall to save two runs. On TV, it seemed Aoki was surprised the ball ended up in his mitt.
Angels 2, Royals 2, end of fifth inning
The Royals manufactured another run. Alex Gordon led off the inning with a double after Trout appeared to lose the ball briefly in the stadium lights, though it was probably not catchable anyway. Salvador Perez flew out to deep left field, and Hamilton crashed into the wall awkwardly while making the catch. He appeared to be fine, but Gordon advanced to third on the play. Omar Infante hit a sacrifice fly to score the runner.
The Angels once again followed a Royals’ run with a solo home run to left field. This time it was a leadoff shot by David Freese, a notoriously strong October performer. Erick Aybar tried to follow that up with a bunt to first base but was beaten to the bag on a diving play. Hamilton and Cron grounded out to end the inning. Through five innings, the Angels have two hits, both home runs.
Angels 1, Royals 1, end of fourth inning
Weaver rebounded with a 1-2-3 inning including a strikeout and two groundouts to the shortstop. He has thrown 63 pitches (40 strikes) through four innings.
Vargas has been more economical. He has yet to pitch out of the stretch, and he has thrown just 47 pitches. He navigated the heart of the order in the bottom of the inning by retiring Trout, Pujols and Kendrick in order.
Royals 1, Angels 1, end of third inning
The Royals got on the board first with a two-out double from Escobar past the outstretched glove of Hamilton. The hit scored Mike Moustakas from first to give the Royals a 1-0 lead. Weaver struck out the first two batters but walked Moustakas with two outs.
The Angels had yet to get a hit with two outs in the bottom of the third, but Chris Iannetta hit a changeup high in the zone over the left-field wall for a solo home run. The homer tied the score at one. Josh Hamilton, C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun each made outs.
Angels 0, Royals 0, end of second inning
Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton looked nimble in his first action of the night. Alex Gordon hit a two-out pop to shallow left field, and Hamilton made the sliding catch after a long run. This was the same Hamilton who played just four games in September, and none since Sept. 16, with rib-cage and chest injuries. Earlier in the inning, Eric Hosmer led off with a walk, but Billy Butler — not the most fleet afoot — hit into a slow-developing double play.
Cain made a second nice defensive play in as many innings. He slid to catch a Erick Aybar line drive to end the inning. The Angels went 1-2-3 with a Howie Kendrick ground out and a David Freese fly out.
Angels 0, Royals 0, end of first inning
So much for the Royals’ pesky running game disrupting the rhythm of Angels’ starter Jered Weaver. Right fielder Nori Aoki singled up the middle but was picked off to end the inning. Aoki didn’t appear to be trying to steal. Weaver also struck out leadoff hitter Alcides Escobar on a 79-mph slider and Lorenzo Cain lined out sharply to third.
It was a busy bottom half of the inning for the Royals’ outfield. Kole Calhoun nearly hit the first pitch from Jason Vargas out, but a leaping grab by Cain robbed him of extra bases. Cain made the impressive catch right below the Konica Minolta sign in right-center field. In Mike Trout’s first postseason at bat, he popped out to shallow left field. Albert Pujols flew out to Cain in center field to end a scoreless first inning.
Game 1 lineups
The Royals didn’t deviate from their lineup in the wild-card game (career batting average against Angels right-handed starter Jered Weaver in parentheses):
1. SS Alcides Escobar (.250); 2. RF Nori Aoki (.333); 3. CF Lorenzo Cain (.000); 4. 1B Eric Hosmer (.000); 5. DH Billy Butler (.207); 6. LF Alex Gordon (.200); 7. C Salvador Perez (.000); 8. 2B Omar Infante (.000); 9. 3B Mike Moustakas (.167)
There were few surprises in the Angels' lineup for Thursday evening's game against the Kansas City Royals. (TBS is broadcasting the game; first pitch is at 6:07 p.m.)
All expected starters are starting. Josh Hamilton, who had rib-cage and chest injuries, is back in the lineup and will play in left field. C.J. Cron gets the nod at designated hitter.
Here’s what Manager Mike Scioscia will go with in game one (career batting average against Royals left-handed starter Jason Vargas in parentheses):
1. Kole Calhoun (.000); 2. CF Mike Trout (.400); 3. 1B Albert Pujols (.286); 4. 2B Howie Kendrick (.268); 5. 3B David Freese (.500); 6. SS Erick Aybar (.268); 7. LF Josh Hamilton (.222); 8. DH C.J. Cron (.667); 9. C Chris Iannetta (.375)
What they are saying in Kansas City
Fans in Kansas City are awaiting the start of the first game of the ALDS between the Royals and Angels, but what are the media saying there? A quick look:
At the Kansas City Star, Vahe Gregorian defends Royals Manager Ned Yost, who has been criticized by fans because they feel he is a bad game manager. Gregorian writes:
"Some suggest that the Royals overcame not only the A’s but Yost to do so, just as some believe the Royals are in this position despite Yost.
"Neither, though, is true.
"Yost, to be sure, is an imperfect manager, which is a fine match for what general manager Dayton Moore calls ‘not a perfect baseball team.’
"But he’s certainly no dope, even if it’s become sport to suggest that....
"He helped set an upbeat tone in the clubhouse, protecting his players for the most part but challenging them and chiding them in an important and overlooked way when this season was on the brink of crumbling."
Lee Judge writes about what the Royals need to do to win in the playoffs. It basically boils down to this:
--Throw strikes and get ahead in the count.
--Play good defense.
--Try to have more than a one-run lead.
That is some really insightful stuff there.
On the Royals message board at MLB.com, fans are coming up with ways to beat the Angels. Including: "When was the last time the Angels played a game they had to win? I believe the Royals are razor sharp right now, having played game after game after game that mattered. This train is rolling now and the Angels are going to get caught by surprise. Royals in 4, celebrating at the K on Monday."
So, basically, big shock here, fans in KC think their team will win. Fans here think the Angels will. Who is right? We will find out soon.
Angels get papal praise on social media
The Angels' postseason run hasn't even started but already there's good news.
The Guardian tweeted, “I believe in angels, says Pope Francis — and they help you make right decisions."
Good news for Mike Scioscia. The pope was probably not referring to the baseball team, but it can’t hurt.