Royals head into the sixth inning with a commanding five-run lead over the Angels

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The Royals have been doing it all in Game 3 of the ALDS as they attempt to finish off a series sweep against the Angels. They chased starter C.J. Wilson after scoring three runs on an Alex Gordon double in the first inning. Eric Hosmer hit a two-run home run in the third inning, and the Royals tacked on two more in the fourth on a Mike Moustakas solo home run and a Lorenzo Cain sacrifice fly, making it 7-2. Offense: check.

Something unexpected happened in the third inning. After Hosmer’s homer, Billy Butler walked, and then — you may want to sit down for this — he stole second base. It marks his first stolen base since July 5, 2012. It was also his last attempt at swiping a bag. Speed: check.

In the top of the fifth, the Royals flashed some leather as Cain made two spectacular sliding catches for the second and third outs. With runners on first and second and one out, Albert Pujols hit a soft fly ball to shallow left-center. Cain galloped over and made the head-first diving catch just before the ball could make contact with the grass. The next batter,  Howie Kendrick, hit a line drive to center field. Cain calmly strode in and made a feet-first sliding snag to end the inning. Cain emphatically pumped his fist and yelled something in celebration. As the Royals left the field, starter James Shields doffed his cap to Cain to show his thanks. Defense: check.

We’ve seen plenty of comebacks and big innings already in this young post-season, so nothing is certain yet. But the Royals are 12 defensive outs away from punching their ticket to the ALCS to match up against the Orioles.

Report: Rays sign Brandon Lowe to six-year, $24 million contract extension

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Rays and infielder Brandon Lowe have agreed on a six-year, $24 million contract extension. Lowe has just 58 days of service time, so this will cover his three years of pre-arbitration as well as three arbitration years.

Lowe, 24, earned a promotion to the majors in early August last year, playing mostly at second base but also logging time in both outfield corners. Through the end of the season, he hit .233/.324/.450 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 148 plate appearances. Lowe also performed well this spring, batting .359/.405/.692 with a pair of homers and 14 RBI in 39 at-bats.

MLB Pipeline rates lowe as the No. 10 prospect in the Rays’ system. He is in line to see regular starts at second base, but the Rays will certainly be keen to utilize his versatility throughout the year.