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The Royals' Run Continues, Puts Angels In A Hole

Paolo Uggetti |
October 4, 2014 | 10:12 a.m. PDT

Web Producer/Staff Reporter

The Angels are facing an elimination game after dropping the first two to the Royals. (@WORDLINKSports/Twitter)
The Angels are facing an elimination game after dropping the first two to the Royals. (@WORDLINKSports/Twitter)

If momentum were to really exist, it would be easy to explain the past two games of the American League Division Series between the Los Angeles Angels and the Kansas City Royals. 

One team—coming off one of the more thrilling comeback wins and certainly one of the best wild card play-in games in the game’s short history—wins the next two. The other—having clinched the division prematurely, playing for the first time in five days—loses both at home. 

If momentum were to truly exist, the Royals would be the shining example. The team from Kansas City slipped into the playoffs for the first time in 29 years, and it isn’t leaving any doubt in any mind that they belong in October. 

Meanwhile the Angels, who owned the best record in the bigs during the regular season, are still trying to find their place and their rhythm. 

But time and pitching are not on their side. The Halos already placed their ace and their tentative second-best pitcher on the mound at home and came up empty-handed. 

The opener played out like a mirror. Both Weaver and his counterpart Jason Vargas posted almost identical numbers. Three hits and two runs. Weaver over seven innings, Vargas over six. Oh, and did I mention they both gave up their runs in the 3rd and 5th innings? Like synchronized divers, their symmetry was impeccable. 

The Royals scored like the Royals know how. A single here, a stolen base there, maybe a bunt or two, and then a extra base hit or a sac fly to drive the runners in. Kansas City, where manufacturing runs happens. Also, where Nori Aoki the outfield wizard, happens. 

READ MORE: 2014 Kansas City Royals Playoff Preview Q&A

The Angels, on the other hand, know how to score in any way, shape or fashion. But on Thursday, their bats were swiftly quieted. Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton all went hitless and they were forced to resort to the long balls by unlikely contributors Chris Ianetta and David Freese, who both had 400-foot shots, to keep the game even. 

But their mediocre night at the plate came back to bite them in extra innings when So-Cal native Mike Moustakas gave the Angels a bit off their own medicine and hit a game-winning bomb in the 11th. 

Game 2 on Friday night was more of the same. Again in an eerie mirror-like fashion, the hits were scarce for both squads as rookies Matt Shoemaker and Yordano Ventura went toe-to-toe in an absolute pitching duel.

Shoemaker allowed five hits and one run through six innings. Ventura allowed five hits and one run through seven. 

As if the similarities were not enough, extras once again decided this one. This time it was the Royals’ Eric Hosmer who played hero and careened a 2-run blast (in the 11th inning again no less) to give the Royals the permanent lead in the game and the commanding 2-0 advantage in the series.

via SB Nation
via SB Nation

While the American League Wild Card winners are looking like the team of destiny, the American League West Champs have definitely not looked their part. 

It’s been as simple as this: The Royals have created ways out of nothing to win games. The Angels still seem to be looking to find ways to do the same. 

Due to injuries, many believed the Angels’ weakness to be their pitching staff and the lack of depth coming into October. Through two games, the opposite has been the case. 

READ MORE2014 Los Angeles Angels Playoff Preview Q&A

Weaver and Shoemaker both rendered quality starts, but they meant nothing in the end as the Angels squandered the games away in the late innings. And perhaps more problematic has been their inability to score, a facet that was a staple of their success in the regular season. 

Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton have yet to record a hit. Both Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick only have single to their name, and the team has hit a combined 1-for-13 with men in scoring position. That’s not good signs for a team that scored the most runs in the majors this season. 

Down 2-0, the Angels are no longer happily in the outfield, they’re now in a deep desperate hole. If they want their season to continue, they’ll be forced to score runs and get a win against the Royals’ ace James Shields with this offense that has been incredibly stagnant so far. 

To rival Shields on Sunday night, the Halos will hand the ball to C.J. Wilson whose only consistency this season has been his erratic inconsistency. 

The Angels better hope they get the Wilson they saw early in the season, rather than the one they dealt with from June to September. If they don’t, they could be shutout in their first return to the postseason since 2009. 

Expectations were high coming into the playoffs, and with much reason. The team with the best record in the bigs isn’t meant to be swept by the wild card. But, as we’ve come to learn, this is not just any old wild card. 

The Royals are determined to end this now, rather than later. You could even say they have that so-called “momentum”, although their home crowd may be a bigger advantage. 

Kauffman Stadium will be another raucous scene Sunday night, and with the pressure of a thousand tons on the Angels, it’s time for them to put up or go home. 

Reach Staff Reporter/Web Producer Paolo Uggetti here or follow him on Twitter.



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