Albert Pujols climbs career HR charts, but Angels swept by Royals
The Kansas City Royals completed another three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. Unlike last October, there was no champagne sprayed in the clubhouse -- just a fervent resolve to prove that last year's trip to the World Series wasn't a fluke.
Alcides Escobar and Alex Rios hit two-run doubles, Salvador Perez homered and the defending American League champions extended their season-opening win streak to six games with a 9-2 victory on Sunday.
"To start the year the way that we have is exciting and it's fun to see. You just keep it going for as long as you can," manager Ned Yost said. "Over the course of 162 games, it's hard to maintain over long stretches. But we're firing on all cylinders right now in all phases of our game.
"We're hitting in the clutch and we're hitting for power. Our defense again today was fantastic, so was the starting pitching, and our bullpen came in and did a great job. To come in here and play as well as we did against them was encouraging."
The winning streak is the Royals' second-longest to open a season. They won their first nine in 2003 under first-year manager Tony Pena but finished only four games over .500 and third in the AL Central.
The Angels' Albert Pujols hit his 522nd home run, moving past Ted Williams, Willie McCovey and Frank Thomas for sole possession of 18th on the career list. The solo drive off Royals ace Yordano Ventura (2-0) landed in the lower seats in the left-field corner.
"Obviously, it's a great accomplishment, man, but it's really disappointing," Pujols said. "We got swept by a great ballclub. I've told you guys my whole career, that at the end of my career I'm going to enjoy it a little bit more. But when I'm playing baseball, my goal is to try to help this ballclub to win."
The Royals and Detroit are the only unbeaten teams left in the majors.
"We're just playing good baseball as a team," third baseman Mike Moustakas said. "Everyone is doing their job, no one's trying to do too much, and we've been finding ways to win."
"Everything's rolling pretty good for us right now," he said.
Ventura, coming off a 10-1 win at Chicago in which he left in the seventh after 81 pitches because of a cramp in his thumb, allowed two runs and four hits in 5-2/3 innings Sunday before coming out with another cramp -- this one in his right calf.
After Pujols' homer, Ventura didn't allow another hit until Mike Trout's one-out single in the sixth. Moments later, Trout slid across the plate on Pujols' double, which center fielder Lorenzo Cain bobbled for the Royals' first error of the season.
Ventura, who was backing up home plate on the play, had some words with Trout. Both dugouts and bullpens emptied, but no punches were thrown.
"I was just playing my game," Trout said. "I just got a base hit, I got to first base and he was staring at me. I didn't think I did anything wrong -- and then he got in my face. I'm not trying to get in any fights or anything, and I'm just trying to play baseball."
Yost, understandably, defended his pitcher.
"He pitches with a lot of emotion. He's a real intense competitor, and he got fired up there," Yost said.
C.J. Wilson (1-1) allowed seven runs -- six earned -- and nine hits over 5-2/3 innings after pitching eight innings of two-hit ball in a 2-0 victory at Seattle last Tuesday. He took the loss in the finale of last year's AL Division Series, which completed the Royals' three-game sweep.
"We were able to put some good swings against him in that playoff game, but he's a good pitcher and he definitely made some adjustments against us today," Moustakas said. "We had a report on him that said he was throwing a lot of fastballs, going at guys and getting a lot of first-pitch swings, so we tried to get a good pitch to hit early in the count and get a knock."
Angels: RF Kole Calhoun, who homered and drove in three runs in Saturday night's 6-4 loss, got the day off to rest a sore calf. "His calf is a little bit tight, so we're just going to take a precautionary day," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's been nursing it for a couple of days, and we just don't want it to go in the wrong direction right now."