Momentum is a special kind of thing which is impossible to quantify or measure. The Kansas City Royals have it on their side, taking advantage of it to complete a stunning three game sweep in the ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels, a team with the best record in baseball during the regular season. Game 3 ended in yet another blowout, with the underdogs advancing after winning 8-3.
The Angels become just the second team to finish the season with the best record since the beginning of the divisional era in 1969 and get not just knocked out, but swept out of the playoffs. The other team? The New York Yankees in 1980, knocked out by non-other than the Kansas City Royals. For the Royals, who haven’t been to the postseason since their World Series run in 1985, this is obviously another first of the last three decades.
This was didn’t have any extra innings or dramatic hits. The Angels did take a lead with a Mike Trout home run in the first inning, but that was the last we heard from perhaps the best player in the American League, who finished the series batting a terrible 0.083. The Royals put C.J. Wilson in a lot of trouble and he was taken off before the end of the first inning, loading the bases and giving up a two-out double to Alex Gordon, finishing the game with 3 RBIs.
Eric Hosmer hit a home run in the third inning that also scored Norichika Aoki, and all the Angels had in return was another solo homer run, this time from Albert Pujols, who hit an also disappointing .167 in this series, playing in the postseason for the first time since helping the Cardinals win the World Series in 2011. All of the money spent on him and others, for all of that playoff experience, meant nothing in the end.
After Pujols hit a home run Mike Moustakas had his second of the series to make sure the Angels don’t come close. Josh Hamilton hitting a sacrifice fly gave the Angels a third run in the 8th inning, but that was after the Royals opened their 8-2 lead. James Shields got the win despite giving up two home runs, allowing six hits and striking out six in his six innings, while the guys coming on for him had no trouble closing out the game, avoiding any complications.
Many feel that Mike Scioscia, the current longest serving manager in Baseball, won’t be able to overcome this knock. He got out-managed by Ned Yost throughout the entire series, and his team having no answer to the varied and flexible Royals, especially when the Angels have such a huge payroll that has finally made the playoffs after three years. You can only wave that world series ring from 2002 for so long.
The Royals now enter a series with the Baltimore Orioles, a team they hold a 4-3 lead in the season series in the regular season. The Orioles come packing a lot of punch, just like the Angels, yet in a seven game series, not to mention another team that swept their divisional series, things should turn out to be a lot more difficult, not to mention interesting.