After a weekend of amazing baseball drama, the Royals' series-clinching victory over the Angels was anticlimactic for everyone except Royals fans, as the Royals took a 3-1 lead in the first inning and pounded out an 8-3 victory. A few moments and thoughts ...
1. Royals celebrate as Greg Holland gets final out.
— MLB (@MLB) October 6, 2014
— jasoncollette (@jasoncollette) October 6, 2014
The royals have not so thoroughly thrashed an opponent since the defeat of Wat Tyler and the Peasants' Revolt in 1381.
— Old Hoss Radbourn (@OldHossRadbourn) October 6, 2014
Arthur Bryant's. Calvin Trillin. Harry Truman. Jean Harlow. Gates. Charlie Parker. Buck O'Neil. Super Bowl IV. The 2014 Royals.
— Joe Posnanski (@JPosnanski) October 6, 2014
On July 21, the Royals were 48-50. The next night, they beat the White Sox 7-1 behind, of all pitchers, Bruce Chen. They won 2-1 the next night with a run in the ninth. They climbed over .500 the next with a 14-inning victory over the Indians. Holland actually blew the save that game but then Francisley Bueno, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Aaron Crow combined for five scoreless innings of relief. For the second game in a row Norichika Aoki knocked in the winning run. That walk-off win got the Royals going as they would win 24 of their next 30, the 30-game stretch that saved their season and got them into the playoffs.
And now they're going to the American League Championship Series.
If you're going to dissect one number from this series, I'd say this one: The Angels went 2-for-23 with runners in scoring position.
2. Royals deliver the power. Eric Hosmer gave the Royals a 5-1 lead with an impressive blast to left-center in the third, off a 2-0 fastball from Hector Santiago. Mike Moustakas added a solo shot in the fourth, golfing out a below-the-knees 1-0 fastball to right field.
We all know about the Royals' power issues this year, finishing last in the majors in home runs. Hosmer and Moustakas, both heralded first-round picks (Hosmer was the third overall pick in 2008, Moustakas the second overall pick in 2007) have been disappointments in that department. Hosmer hit 19 home runs in 128 games as a 21-year-old rookie in 2011, but the power failed to develop in ensuing years. After a rough sophomore campaign and miserable first two months of 2013, he did finish strong over the final four months (.318, 16 home runs) but then hit just .270 with nine home runs in 131 games this year. Moustakas struggled so much at the beginning of the season that he was sent back to Triple-A for a few games. He finished with 15 home runs.
But both hit two in this series, winning the first two games with extra-inning home runs -- the Royals were the first team in postseason history to win consecutive extra-inning games on home runs. The two home runs in Game 3 marked just the second time in 39 games the Royals have hit more than one in a game.
The Royals have speed and defense and a great bullpen. That recipe got them into the postseason. If they keep hitting home runs they can win it all.
This is who I have long believed Eric Hosmer would be.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) October 6, 2014
Chatted with Scott Boras last night in LA and he was saying Hosmer has figured out how to load his swing properly hence the explosive power
— Kevin Kernan (@WheresKernan) October 6, 2014
Moustakas HR landed 1 row in front of me. Happy kid! pic.twitter.com/UqWHs0AuHg
— Craig Brown (@royalsauthority) October 6, 2014
3. Lorenzo Cain's diving catches. And to think that when the Royals bring in Jarrod Dyson for defense, Cain shifts from center to right field. That Alex Gordon-Dyson-Cain outfield is something special, the best in the majors by defensive runs saved, and it's showing why this postseason.
4. James Shields gets Josh Hamilton and C.J. Cron. There was one moment where it appeared the Angels had a chance to get back in the game. After Albert Pujols homered in the fourth to make it 5-2, Erick Aybar doubled with one out and Shields hit David Freese. As confident and pumped up as the Royals were with their lead, Shields was looking shaky and the Angels had two power bats coming up. Shields threw Hamilton six straight changeups, then a fastball that Hamilton fouled off and then another changeup that Hamilton grounded sharply to first for a 3-6 forceout. Shields then made short order of Cron with a fastball, cutter and changeup for a three-pitch strikeout. Royals fans took a deep sigh of relief and then the offense essentially put the game away with two more runs in the bottom of the inning.
Hamilton, who had played one game since Sept. 4 before the series (on Sept. 16), was just one Angel who didn't produce, but he looked especially bad in going 0-for-13.
Josh Hamilton has slider bat speed on fastballs, changeup bat speed on sliders, knuckleball bat speed on changeups. Now 0 for 12 in series.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) October 6, 2014
Hitless this series, Josh Hamilton made $17 million in 2014, more than Perez, Hosmer, Moustakas, Cain, Davis, Holland, Ventura make combined
— FOX 4 News (@fox4kc) October 6, 2014
Oh, and that $17 million jumps to $25 million next season and then $32 million in 2016 and '17.
5. C.J. Wilson pulled in the first inning. Mike Scioscia ended up using seven relief pitchers and three of them allowed runs. Did he pull the trigger too quickly on Wilson? In retrospect, it's easy to say "yes," but considering Wilson's inconsistencies all year, it's hard to blame Scioscia for having a quick hook in a must-win game. Alex Gordon hit a 2-2 slider that was on the outside corner but thigh high. OK pitch, better hitting.