Royals sweep Angels, punch their ticket to the ALCS

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The Royals rode a strong outing from “Big Game” James Shields and a relentless offense to take an easy 8-3 win over the Angels in Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday, completing a series sweep and punching their ticket into the ALCS against the Orioles.

Shields fell behind early, surrendering a first-inning solo home run to Mike Trout in the top of the first. But the Royals countered, scoring three on Alex Gordon’s bases-clearing double to left-center in the bottom half. From there, the Royals would never relinquish their lead.

The Royals kept adding on, scoring twice in the third inning on Eric Hosmer’s two run home run, and twice in the fourth on a Mike Moustakas solo homer and a Lorenzo Cain sacrifice fly. Norichika Aoki made it 8-2 in the sixth with an RBI single.

Shields gave up another solo home run, this time to Albert Pujols, in the fourth, but that was it. Overall, he gave up six hits and two walks while striking out six. Cain helped Shields out twice with two spectacular catches in the top of the fifth inning that prevented the Angels from reducing their deficit.

Shields’ counterpart, C.J. Wilson, failed to make it out of the first inning, as Mike Scioscia chose to yank him with two outs in the bottom of the first. The Angels got the remaining 22 outs with seven relievers.

Once Shields departed, Kelvim Herrera tossed a scoreless seventh, Wade Davis allowed a meaningless run in the eighth, and Greg Holland nailed down the win in the top of the ninth, striking out pinch-hitter Hank Conger, inducing a ground ball that Omar Infante fielded with a bare hand, and fanning Trout for the final out.

Both the Royals and Orioles, having completed sweeps, now have a lot of downtime. The two clubs won’t match up for Game 1 of the ALCS until Friday night.

The Angels, meanwhile, will lick their wounds as they attempt to answer how they won the most games of any team in the majors during the regular season, but their $154 million roster showed up flat in the playoffs against a team that won nine fewer games and didn’t even win their division.

Report: Momentum in talks between Mariners, Jon Jay

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MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports that there is some momentum in talks between the Mariners and free agent outfielder Jon Jay.

Jay, 32, hit .296/.374/.375 in 433 plate appearances with the Cubs last season, which is adequate. He’s heralded more for his defense and his ability to play all three outfield spots.

The Mariners are losing center fielder Jarrod Dyson to free agency and likely don’t want to rely on Guillermo Heredia next season, hence the interest in Jay. The free agent class for center fielders is otherwise relatively weak.