The Royals, a wild card team making their first post-season
appearance in 29 years, eliminated the top-seeded Los Angeles Angels
with an 8-3 triumph to thrill their home fans and register a 3-0
decision in the best-of-five series.
Earlier on Sunday, AL East-winning Baltimore also wrapped up their
series without a blemish as they beat the Tigers in a 2-1 nail-biter
The Orioles will host the Royals in the opener of the league
championship series that sends the winner to the World Series.
"We're fired up," said James Shields, winning pitcher in the Royals'
clincher against Los Angeles. "We're playing the best baseball of
the season right now. We'll get some rest the next couple of days
and then get ready for Baltimore."
The teams both boast solid starting rotations and formidable
bullpens, though they offer a stark contrast on offense.
Baltimore led the league in home runs, while Kansas City was dead
last as the only major league team to hit less than 100 homers.
Kansas City led the league in stolen bases, while the Orioles swiped
"Everybody's very capable," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter told
reporters after beating Detroit. "Everybody's got strengths and
weaknesses. We're looking forward to the challenge.
"The sad thing is only one team is going to be completely happy when
this is all over. It can be real cold."
Alex Gordon got the Royals rolling in the bottom of the first
against the Angels, drilling a bases-loaded opposite field double to
the wall in left-center that cleared the bases.
The shot answered Mike Trout's solo homer in the visitor's half and
chased Angels starting pitcher C.J. Wilson after just two-thirds of
Kansas City extended their lead to 5-1 in the third inning on a
two-run homer from Eric Hosmer, and after Albert Pujols blasted a
solo homer for the Angels in the fourth, the Royals answered again
in their half with two runs of their own.
Two spectacular back-to-back catches by center fielder Lorenzo Cain
underlined Kansas City's defensive prowess and killed a budding
rally in the fifth.
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Royals starter James Shields went six innings, allowing two runs on
six hits and was followed by the usual bullpen progression of Kelvin
Herrera, Wade Davis and closer Greg Holland, who struck out AL MVP
favorite Trout to end the game.
Los Angeles used eight pitchers and their hitters went 2-for-25 with
runners in scoring position.
Orioles starter Bud Norris and two relievers combined to hold the
Tigers to just four hits, and post-season slugger extraordinaire
Nelson Cruz provided the offensive support with a two-run homer in
the sixth off Tigers' left-hander David Price.
Signed as a free agent before the 2014 season after a 50-game doping
suspension last year, Cruz increased his career total to 16 home
runs and 32 RBIs in 37 post-season games.
Detroit rallied in the bottom of the ninth, cutting Baltimore's 2-0
lead in half with back-to-back doubles from lead-off hitter Victor
Martinez and J.D. Martinez off closer Zach Britton, but he escaped
with a game-ending double play.
In the series, Baltimore overcame a trio of Cy Young winners in
Detroit starters Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Price as the AL
East champions advanced to the ALCS for the first time since 1997 in
pursuit of their first World Series in 31 years.
(Writing by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by John O'Brien)
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