Royals' bullpen falters as Angels rally late to win
The Angels never seem to be out of a game. Even with three star players out with injury, Los Angeles keeps finding ways to rally and string hits together for one unlikely comeback after another.
Of course, it didn't hurt that the Angels spent the past three games facing a team that chucks away leads like they're day-old fish wrap.
Maicer Izturis had four RBIs and Los Angeles scored five runs in the eighth inning against Kansas City's beleaguered bullpen, helping the Angels beat the Royals 9-6 Wednesday night to complete an improbable three-game sweep.
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"This a team that never looks at the scoreboard, we never let our guard down," Izturis said through an interpreter. "Regardless of what happened early in the game, we don't try to get out of our game."
The Angels stayed close despite starter Joe Saunders' shaky outing - six run on nine hits in 5 2-3 innings - thanks to Izturis's two-run homer off Royals starter Brian Bannister in the third inning and Howie Kendrick's solo shot off him in the seventh.
The real action, though, came after Bannister left.
Mike Napoli hit a tying two-run homer in the eighth inning off Roman Colon (1-1) and Chone Figgins followed three straight walks with his fourth hit, a two-run double that completed Los Angeles' majors-best 30th comeback and another Kansas City collapse.
Justin Speier (4-2) made the rally possible, allowing a hit in 1 1-3 innings, and Brian Fuentes polished it off in the ninth to join Randy Myers as the only left-handers to get 30 saves in both leagues.
Kendry Morales had two hits to extend his career-high hitting streak to 20 games and the AL West-leading Angels had 15 hits - 40 in the three-game series - to move a season-high 17 games over .500. Not bad for a team playing without Vladimir Guerrero, Torii Hunter and Juan Rivera.
"When we get a runner on, we've been capitalizing on it lately," Figgins said. "If we get that leadoff hitter on, we usually get that runner from first to third and that keeps us in the ballgame."
Bannister, like he has most of the past two months, put the Royals in position to win. The right-hander limited the damage from eight hits over 6 2-3 innings and, more importantly, left with a 6-3 lead.
Problem was, Bannister had to hand the ball off to the Royals' implode-at-any-minute bullpen.
Kansas City's relievers had given up 18 runs the first five games of the homestand, including nine in eight innings of Tuesday's tail-tucking doubleheader sweep by the Angels. They were facing baseball's best comeback team, so it didn't figure to go well.
The ugliness started right away.
Figgins nearly crowned John Bale with a liner up the middle and Izturis sent a shard of his bat flying across the infield with a through-the-gap single to left that cut Kansas City's lead to 6-4. The run was charged to Bannister, which isn't much of a surprise; Kansas City's bullpen is one of baseball's worst at pitching in jams, allowing 44 percent of inherited runners score.
"It feels like Groundhog Day," Royals manager Trey Hillman said. "It's same thing, different day."
That was just the start.
Morales chased Bale with a leadoff double in the eighth. In came Colon and he promptly gave up Napoli's 12th homer, the boos filling The K before the ball even landed in right. Colon walked one, Jamey Wright walked two more and the Royals had no choice but to bring in closer Joakim Soria with the bases loaded and one out.
Even he couldn't stop the negative momentum.
With the infield drawn in, Figgins lined a two-run double to left-center, putting the Angels up 8-6. Another collapse complete, hundreds of Royals fans headed for the exits. They missed Izturis' fourth RBI, a sacrifice fly off Soria, but it didn't matter at that point. The Angels had already completed their ninth comeback win in 12 games and the Royals were well on their way to a ninth straight loss.
"It's not only frustrating, it's embarrassing," Wright said. "We've got some great arms down there and it's just one those deals where we're snakebit."
NOTES: Royals RF Jose Guillen went to the hospital in the bottom of the second inning with "severe right leg pain." ... Kansas City is 0-6 against Los Angeles this season. ... Fuentes had 30 saves twice in seven seasons with Colorado.