Efren Navarro

Eric Hosmer homers in 11th, sends Royals up 2-0 in the ALDS against the Angels

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The Royals became the first team to go to extra innings in three consecutive games to begin the post-season. And the Royals are now 3-0 in those games. Eric Hosmer belted a two-run home run in the top of the 11th inning off of Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen to break a 1-1 tie, ending hours of offensive frustration even after starters Yordano Ventura and Matt Shoemaker were long gone.

Alex Gordon gave the Royals a 1-0 lead in the second inning, sending a single to center field to bring around Hosmer who had singled to lead off the inning. The Angels tied it up in the sixth, when Albert Pujols pushed a single into the hole between first and second base, allowing Kole Calhoun to score. And that was it offensively for most of the game.

Yordano Ventura rebounded from a tough relief appearance in the American League Wild Card game, in which he served up a three-run home run to Brandon Moss in the sixth inning. Unlike the Athletics, the Royals couldn’t muster much of anything against the right-hander. Ventura repeatedly reached triple digits in velocity, fanning five batters in total while scattering five hits and a walk in seven innings.

Matt Shoemaker was equally as good. Shoemaker hadn’t pitched since September 15 due to an oblique injury, but it certainly didn’t seem to bother him any on Friday night. The right-hander punched out six batters while allowing five hits and a walk.

Both bullpens followed suit. The Angels’ bullpen put up four hitless innings in the seventh, eighth, ninth, and 10th innings. The Royals’ bullpen allowed just one hit in three innings of work in the eighth, ninth, and 10th.

Lorenzo Cain started the Royals’ rally in the top of the 11th, narrowly beating out an infield single. Hosmer then slapped a home run well over the fence in right field to give the Royals a 3-1 lead. The Royals weren’t quite done, however. Alex Gordon drew a two-out walk, stole second, and advanced to third base on an errant throw by catcher Chris Iannetta. Following that, Salvador Perez punched a single up the middle that had just enough oomph before shortstop Erick Aybar flagged it down, allowing Gordon to score and Perez to reach safely. Omar Infante flied out to center to end the three-run 11th inning for the Royals.

Closer Greg Holland took the mound in the bottom half of the 11th, retiring Efren Navarro and Chris Iannetta quickly. Kole Calhoun reached on a throwing error by second baseman Infante and was given second base when the throw skipped out of play. Holland struck out Mike Trout swinging on a high slider to end the contest for a 4-1 win, giving the Royals a 2-0 cushion in the American League Division Series.

Trout is 0-for-7 with two walks in two ALDS games for the Angels. Josh Hamilton is 0-for-9. Pujols is 1-for-8 with a walk and the RBI single. The Angels’ best hitters have been stymied by Royals pitching.

The Royals and Angels will have Saturday off to travel, then they’ll resume the series on Sunday night in Kansas City when C.J. Wilson will oppose James Shields. The Angels will have to win three games in a row if they hope to extend their season further into October.