After Yost calls meeting, offense answers with renewed patience
ANAHEIM -- Not very happy with what he saw the night before, Royals manager Ned Yost called his hitters together for a special meeting before Wednesday night's game. He must have struck a responsive chord.
Kansas City struck early and often en route to a 9-5 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at the Big A and took the series, two games to one. That took the sting out of a period in which the Royals had lost six of seven games.
"It's huge because we struggled with the Yankees, so to come in here and take two from these guys was big for us," said Lorenzo Cain, who contributed a bases-clearing double. "We've got a momentum swing going and hopefully we can keep going against Oakland."
The Royals scored seven runs in the third, their biggest inning since Aug. 20, 2011, when they pushed eight runs across in the sixth inning of a 9-4 win over Boston.
"We were swimming upstream from the beginning," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Along with 13 hits, the Royals coaxed five bases on balls, a central element to Yost's pregame meeting.
"We had great at-bats," Yost said. "Better at-bats."
In fact, it was the Royals' first walk of the game that started their seven-run inning.
"It started off with [Jarrod] Dyson going 0-2 and then coaxing a walk," Yost said. "Bases loaded and just kept the pressure on them that inning for seven runs."
Angels starter Barry Enright only hinted at the trouble that was to come when, in the second inning, the Royals got a run on back-to-back doubles by Mike Moustakas and Salvador Perez. The inning ended as Perez, on Elliot Johnson's single, was thrown out at the plate by left fielder J.B. Shuck.
In the next inning, the Royals' big outburst featured five hits, three walks and two Angels pitchers.
Enright lasted only long enough to load the bases on two walks and Alcides Escobar's single. Reliever Mark Lowe arrived and Billy Butler belted a two-run single. A walk again loaded the bases and Cain promptly unloaded them with a three-run double.
"He was wild at first so I definitely wanted to wait until he threw a strike," Cain said. "A 1-1 count, I was set for that fastball up and he put it right where I could do damage with it. I put a swing on it and got it down the line."
Cain eventually scored on a passed ball. Before the inning ended, Johnson singled and scored on Dyson's triple to deep right-center field.
So Royals starter Wade Davis had an 8-0 lead to play with.
"We had some guys work some counts and we've got to keeping doing that. You've got to find ways to get on base without hits," Butler said. "We haven't walked a lot as a team and we've got to be more patient."
Mike Trout's double and Albert Pujols' single drummed up an Angels run in the bottom of the third. Three straight one-out singles in the fourth added another run and a walk loaded the bases. But Davis got Erick Aybar on a double-play grounder to keep the score at 8-2.
But when the Angels closed to within 8-4, Yost was moving relief pitchers into the game and feeling just a bit uneasy.
"[The lead] never felt comfortable because the lineup kept turning around and here comes Pujols, here comes [Mark] Trumbo, here comes Trout, here comes [Josh] Hamilton," Yost said. "That's just a tough, tough lineup."
That's why the Royals breathed a little easier in the seventh when they added a ninth run as Cain doubled, stole third, and Perez singled.
"They were slowly inching back," Cain said. "After Moose grounded out, I felt like I had to be aggressive and steal a bag. I got a great jump, slid in headfirst and Salvy came behind me and got the job done."
Sure enough, some of that Angels' thunder erupted in the eighth when Trout hammed a home run to center. Dyson, climbing the fence in a vain attempt to catch the ball, sprained his right ankle on the play and had to leave the game.
But that was it for the Angels. Closer Greg Holland, needing some work, came in for a perfect ninth inning in a non-save situation.
"When you struggle as much as we did on the pitching side you really can't get enough offense to get back in," Scioscia said. "It's really tough. We tried our best and left some guys in scoring position which could have obviously tilted the game a little bit."