A Royal sweep

They say pitching and defense win championships. Those parts were never in question for the Royals this season … It was the hitting that had us fans concerned for most of the year. They had the lowest home run total in the league, but as long as the boys in blue could put four runs on the board, the odds were in our favor.

Then, they came back from four down Tuesday night and won the wild card game with nine runs. Mike Moustakas hit a home run to win Game 1 against the Angels. Eric Hosmer won Game 2 with a home run.

Make no mistake, these guys could go far.
There are no perfect teams in baseball, and the Royals are a wonderful example of that truism. They generally lack power, most obviously, and often need to bunt and turn base paths into runways to score.

But the Royals are also showing how playoff baseball can make their weaknesses blend in, and their strengths shine.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/sam-mellinger/article2512593.html#storylink=cpy
There were no extra innings needed tonight.

Tonight the Royals knocked two home runs and scored eight runs to sweep the Anaheim Angelswho supposedly had the best record in baseball this season – and earn the right to play the Baltimore Orioles for the American League Championship.

After Greg Holland struck out Mike Trout – who supposedly was the best player in baseball this year – for the final out, I could only sit on our coffee table and smile. This is all so unreal.
The fans reveled in what this team is, a well-oiled defensive machine fortified by its fielding and stout pitching staff. They dreamed about what this team may become, a sudden juggernaut now equipped with power at the plate, a group steaming into a showdown with Baltimore.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/mlb/kansas-city-royals/article2526969.html#storylink=cpy
Hearing “Kansas City” play in the background and seeing George Brett take it in while the Royals celebrated on the field? Priceless.

I was amped for tonight’s game, for sure.

This morning, Kates convinced me, on a whim, to drive the family to St. Joseph for an afternoon at the park and some shopping. I had envisioned a relaxed day at home and some yard work before the big game tonight. ... And yes, I had stayed up to watch all of last night's 18-inning epic between the Giants and the Nationals

But I bought in, and we ended up having a glorious time at Krug Park. The fall color is starting to come on. The girls had a grand time playing on a jungle gym. And we enjoyed some time watching the ducks and geese honk and play at the lagoon …

We got our necessary shopping done, too, and arrived home around 6 – with 30 minutes to spare before the start of the Royals game. We watched the Baltimore Orioles put away the Detroit Tigers while Kates made supper. And Phoebe recited her favorite Royals players, nearly naming the entire Kansas City starting lineup. She forgot only Alcides Escobar.

Now, for the record, I could have – should have – been at Kauffman Stadium tonight. After the Royals clinched a postseason spot, I said I’d wait to see the outcome of the Wild Card Game and then seek tickets for the American League Division Series. I was more than happy to settle for standing-room only tickets.

The Royals, of course, won that game. And I jumped on the Royals website to check on ALDS tickets within minutes after it ended. Standing room only tickets were available for $35. … I texted my friend Tom to see if he wanted in with me, and he said he would get back to me in the morning.

I should have bought this tickets then and there.

Because by the time I received a reply from Tom Wednesday morning, we got out act together and I was able to log in to the Royals website and make the purchase, they were gone. Sold out. … I honestly didn’t think standing room only would go so quickly.

American League Championship Series tickets went even more quickly Friday. … It’s World Series or bust now for me. By scanning Facebook alone, I had more than a dozen friends and acquaintances at Kauffman tonight.

But here’s how it played out for me at home …

Mike Trout homered in the first inning to give the Angels their first of the series. I thought, Ok, he’s due. The Angels may take this one tonight. No big deal.

The Royals came up in the bottom half the inning. Nori Aoki singled. Lorenzo Cain singled. Billy Butler walked to load the bases.

Then, Alex Gordon crushed a ball to left center field that I thought was going to be a home run. Instead it bounced off the bottom of the wall – and I hopped off the couch, landing on my knees on the floor in front of the TV, screaming and pumping my fists as Aoki and Cain came around to score … When I saw Butler wheeling around third base …

No way … Billy, too!? … He’s gonna make it … The throw … Safe!

The Royals had moved ahead 3-1, and the game – and the series – were, in effect, over.

C.J. Wilson didn’t even make it out of the first inning. …

In the bottom of the third inning, Aoki walked and Hosmer hit a home run. 5-1, Royals.

As if things couldn’t get any dreamier for the Royals. ... Billy Butler walked. The Angels were paying no attention to him and … la di da di da … he took off and stole second base!

Albert Pujolsour Kansas City native – a homered in the top of the fourth inning … But Moustakas matched it with a home run of his own in the bottom of the fourth. I had done so much cheering and shouting that I was hoarse by that point.

In the fifth inning, now with the Royals leading 7-2 and two runners on for the Angels, Lorenzo Cain sent down Albert Pujols and Howie Kendrick on back-to-back diving catches in center field …

Everything from then on was icing on the cake and counting down the outs …

And trying to get Faye to bed while missing as little of the action as possible. Admittedly I scoffed at Kates tonight when she noted it was my turn to put Faye to bed – which can take more than an hour to do. But I got a huge break tonight when Faye asked me to tuck her in her bed rather than have me rock her to sleep as she usually prefers. She gave me the OK to leave, I kissed her on the cheek and I returned to watching the game. … Though I was called back several more times to bring extra blankets, locate missing stuffed animals and provide some more reassurance that she would be safe if she just closed her eyes and went to sleep.

I didn’t hear a peep out of her after the seventh inning. Sigh.

When the Royals won, bliss.

Here are the highlights from mlb.com.

Here’s some great Royals memes spotted throughout the game – including some good ones related to Billy Butler’s base-running skills …

And a video of the Royals celebrating with fans after the game …

Good reads ... 
Greg Holland’s 2,000-mile trip to the mound
Remember Bret Saberhagen, a World Series hero in 1985? The night before he shut out the Cardinals in Game 7 to clinch the crown, then-21-year-old Saberhagen became a father for the first time. The birth of Drew William became part of the series media coverage.
Drew Saberhagen became a college baseball player, first at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., but after playing summer league baseball with players from Western Carolina University, he decided to transfer to the school in Cullowhee, N.C.
One of his teammates was Greg Holland.

Royals' Rusty Kuntz is baseball's best base-running coach ... and looks like Robert Redford
We see a Royals base stealer swipe a bag and never think of a coach sitting for hours, watching video to make that stolen base possible. But as Rusty points out; he may have used up 90 minutes of his life finding the key to one pitcher, but he’s got that pitcher for life. His base runners will be able to steal bags off that pitcher forever— unless someone tells the pitcher what he’s doing wrong. Then Rusty’s right back in the video room, finding a new key that will make stealing a base possible.

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/sports/spt-columns-blogs/judging-the-royals/article2518671.html#storylink=cpy

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