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.

The Players’ Weekend uniforms are terrible

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The Yankees and the Dodgers have a storied World Series history, having met in the Fall Classic 11 times. Part of what made those falls so classic was the livery worn by each club.

The Yankees’ uniforms have gone unchanged since 1936. The Dodgers, though changing cities in 1958, have had the same basic, classic look with only minor derivations for almost as long. You can’t even say the names of these teams without picturing pinstripes, those red Dodgers numbers, both teams’ clean road grays, the Yankees navy and the Dodgers’ Dodger blue.

They looked like a couple of expansion teams last night however, at least sartorially speaking.

As you probably know it’s Players’ Weekend this weekend, and teams all over the league wore either all black or all white with player-chosen nicknames on the back. We’ve had the nicknames for a couple of years now and that’s fine, but the black and white combo is new. It doesn’t look great, frankly. I riffed on that on Twitter yesterday a good bit. But beyond my mere distaste for the ensembles, they present a pretty problematic palette, too.

For one thing the guys in black blend in with the umpires. Quick, look at these infields and tell me who’s playing and who’s officiating:

The white batting helmets look especially bad:

But some guys — like Enrique Hernandez of the Dodgers, realized that pine tar makes the white helmets look super special:

There was also a general issue with the white-on-white uniforms in that it’s rather hard to read the names and the numbers on the backs of the jerseys. This was especially true during the Cubs-Nationals game in the afternoon sunlight. You’ll note this as a much bigger problem on Sunday. It’s all rather ironic, of course, that the players have been given the right to put fun, quirky nicknames on the backs of their jerseys but no one can really see them.

The SNY booth was reading many people’s minds last night, noting how much Mad Magazine “Spy vs. Spy” energy this is throwing off:

I’ll also note that if you’re flipping between games or looking at highlights on social media it’s super hard to even tell which team is which — and even what game’s highlights you’re seeing — just by looking which, you know, is sort of the point of having uniforms in the first place.

I’m glad the players have a weekend in which they’re allowed to wear what they want. I just wish they’d wear something better.