Angels stung by Royals’ incredible defensive plays from outfielders

The Angels had two men on base in the fifth inning, and Albert Pujols was up with designs on starting a rally.

He hit a shot to center field, and Lorenzo Cain made a diving catch. Howie Kendrick then hit a shot to center field as well, and again, Cain got the Royals and starter James Shields out of a jam with another diving catch.

Shields walked off the field holding his hat high and shaking his head in amazement at Cain’s clutch plays. Cain walked off the field by doing a full-body shimmy in celebration.

"He’s fast and he’s a good player," Josh Hamilton said of Cain. "That’s the type of thing you live for as an outfielder, to make catches in key situations. To make two in a row, pretty exciting."

And devastating for the Angels.

That was indicative of the ALDS for the Angels, who lost 8-3 in Sunday’s Game 3 and were swept in the best-of-five series. The Royals made countless run-saving defensive plays.

"Oh, man. Nothing really surprises me anymore with these guys," Shields said. "These guys have been making plays like that all season long… I tipped my cap to (Cain) after the inning was over strictly because I’m a fan. I’m a fan of watching that. It’s pretty special."

It was special for the Royals, who won their first postseason series since the Royals won the World Series in 1985. This is the first time the Royals have been in the playoffs in 29 years, and their mantra seems to be "defensive wins championships."

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Said Pujols: "The only difference is if the ball would’ve dropped. He made a great catch. He’s a great outfielder. He made great catches all series… It wasn’t meant to be."

In Game 1, when runs were at a premium, the Royals made four fantastic defensive plays, including two circus catches by Nori Aoki in right field.

The Royals have some of the best defensive outfielders in the majors, so those plays aren’t foreign to Kansas City. They sure stung the Angels.

And Angels manager Mike Scioscia can wonder what could’ve been in Game 3 had Cain not made those catches.

"I think it’s a whole new ballgame," Scioscia said. "I think it is. It sounds like a broken record from the two games we played out in Southern California and the game here. You’re probably looking at a one or two-run game If both those hits drop in, but they didn’t. That’s part of their team, their range in the outfield. It showed up in this series for sure."