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Gordon puts Royals up, Shields shuts Angels down and KC is headed to ALCS after 8-3 victory

It's hard to imagine a better scenario for the Royals entering Game 3 of the American League Division Series. They had already beaten the Angels twice -- both times in extra innings -- and had their best pitcher, James Shields, ready to go Sunday night at Kauffman Stadium.

All that stood in the way was C.J. Wilson and the Angels' sleeping giant offense -- the one that averaged a Major League-best 4.8 runs per game in the regular season, but eked out just three in Games 1 and 2 combined. A win would send the Royals to the ALCS. A loss would mean, well, that the Angels staved off elimination for another day.

The Highlights

Among those sleeping giants? Mike Trout. The Los Angeles center fielder went 0-for-8 in the first two games, but he blasted a solo homer into the fountains in left field in the first.

Yes, Trout landed in the water: 

TroutHR

The Angels' lead was short-lived, as was Wilson's night. Alex Gordon's first-inning double to left-center drove in three runs and put KC up, 3-1. Then LA manager Mike Scioscia pulled the plug on Wilson: 

Eric Hosmer extended the Royals' lead to 5-1 with a two-run blast in the third inning: 

HosmerHR

Albert Pujols drew the Angels within three runs with a solo shot of his own in the top of the fourth, but in the bottom half, Mike Moustakas homered on a long drive to right: 

MoustakasHR

That was plenty of support for Shields, who pitched well but wasn't exactly as dominant as one might expect, given that his nickname is "Big Game James." He allowed two runs on six hits in six innings, stranding two baserunners with a strikeout of Chris Iannetta as a departing gift.
Celebratory screams ensued:

ShieldsStrikeoutScream

Kelvin Herrera pitched a perfect seventh, Wade Davis allowed a run in the eighth and Greg Holland tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to send KC into its second frenzied celebration of the week:

 

 

The Game Changer

Every time the Angels noticed a door left ajar, then started to creep around the corner to see what happened if they opened it a little, the Royals slammed it shut. Lorenzo Cain had that honor in the fifth.

LA had two on and one out when Pujols sent a soft fly ball to center. Cain laid out in left-center for the diving catch. Two pitches later, Cain came rushing in for Howie Kendrick's sinking liner.

Threat over. Inning over. Series, for all intents and purposes, over:

CainCatches

 

Other Key Players, Plays

Nori Aoki was A-OK again, finishing 3-for-3, including this RBI single in the sixth, which extended the Royals' lead to 8-2: 

Billy Butler stole a base. What else needs to be said?

ButlerSteal

 

What's Next?

All that's left for the Angels to do is figure out what went wrong between a regular season in which they posted the Majors' best record and a division series in which they scored six runs in three games against a team that barely made it out of the Wild Card game. They'll have all winter to think about it.

The Royals get to recuperate most of the week until their ALCS date with the Orioles starts Friday. Game 1 will be at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Safe to say that all parts of both teams -- the rotations, bullpens and Billy Butler's probably tired legs -- will be well rested.

AtBat