After winning 98 games in the regular season, the Angels season ended unceremoniously with a thud as they were swept by the surging Royals, 8-3, in the ALDS on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
Angels players were leaning over the dugout railing as they watched the Royals dancing on the mound, celebrating their first postseason victory since 1985.
The loss was awfully sudden, considering the Angels had the best record and best offense in baseball. Their collective bats were silent in Games 1 and 2 but their pitching gave them a chance.
Mike Trout snapped his hitless streak in the series with a 412-foot home run to left field in the first inning. Even that didn’t spark the Angels.
"Obviously, it’s a little disappointing because we want to bring a championship back to the city of Anaheim," Albert Pujols said. "We didn’t do that. We have to wait another year."
This was especially hurtful, considering the Angels figured they were primed to win the World Series. It was 12 years ago that the Angels won the organization’s first World Series over the Giants.
"No one expected this," starter CJ Wilson said. "In spring training, we felt we had a World Series team."
The Angels batted just .170 as a team in the series, but it’s not like the Royals were lighting it up offensively, either. Kansas City batted .198 in the series. Mendoza Line woes.
But James Shields pitched well Sunday and got out of a big jam in the fifth inning, thanks to back-to-back diving catches by Lorenzo Cain in center field.
The injury bug hit the Angels pitching staff, but the most critical was the Garrett Richards knee injury which required surgery. Never did the Angels miss him more than Sunday.
Jered Weaver and Matt Shoemaker threw gems, but Wilson had problems that were typical of his season. Often, he had a bad inning he was able to work around during the regular season. Not this time.
But that inning came in the first against the Royals. He walked Billy Butler to load the bases, and Alex Gordon hit a bases-clearing triple off the wall to give the Royals a 3-1 lead. They never trailed after that.
Wilson was pulled after that hit in a start that lasted 2/3 of an inning. Asked if he thought he was pulled too quickly, Wilson said: "There’s really nothing I can do about it either way. I like to think in general that I’m the kind of guy that can go out there and give the team a good start even if I have a bad inning. The situation we were in with our backs against the wall, what are you going to do?"
A short leash in an elimination game isn’t surprising, but Wilson seemed surprised.
"It was a little bit frustrating," Wilson said. "I walked Butler and turned around and I saw Vinny warming up in the bullpen. I was a little bit upset."
The Angels are upset about the way the season ended. Weaver, who was scheduled to pitch on three days rest in Game 4 here Monday, if necessary, doesn’t get that chance.
Josh Hamilton, whose swing didn’t look right after missing nearly all of September with injuries, was 0-for-13 in the series.
"I felt like I had pretty good at-bats," Hamilton said. "Coming into it, the biggest thing was putting the ball in play. Felt like I did that. (Sunday) I felt like I had some pretty good at-bats. Little late for that."