Billy Butler reacts after scoring from first on a double in the first inning (photo/MLB)

Billy Butler reacts after scoring from first on a double in the first inning (photo/MLB)

Alex Gordon hit a bases-clearing double in the first inning, with Billy Butler motoring all the way from first base to score and Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas each homered again, as the Royals advance by sweeping the Los Angeles Angels 8-3, Sunday night at Kauffman Stadium.

The Royals are now off until Friday, Oct 10, when they open up the American League Championship Series at Baltimore.  The Orioles swept Detroit in their ALDS.

According to STATS, only two teams, since division play started in 1969, have been swept out of the playoffs after finishing with the best record in baseball.  This year’s Angels and the 1980 New York Yankees…both teams eliminated by the Royals.

The Angels appeared to change their fortunes when Mike Trout hit a solo homer in the first off James Shields for a 1-0 lead.  That quickly evaporated in the bottom half of the inning, when the Royals loaded the bases against lefty C.J. Wilson.  Singles by Nori Aoki and Lorenzo Cain followed by a two out walk to Butler, set the stage for Gordon.

Gordon launched a two-strike pitch to left-center field that hit the bottom of the wall.  By the time Trout chased the ball down and got it back in, the relay throw was late as Butler slid into home for the 3-1 lead.  Butler showed off his hustle later in the game as well, when he caught the Angels napping and stole second base.

Wilson was lifted after the hit by Gordon and Angels manager Mike Scioscia called on seven more pitchers to finish the game.

The Royals have gotten a power surge from their cornerstone infielders Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas in this series.  Hosmer who put the Royals up in the 11th inning in game two, hit a two-run shot in the third and Moustakas, who homered in the 11th in game one, hit a solo shot to right in the fourth.

The Royals defense continued to sparkle as center fielder Lorenzo Cain made two diving grabs to bail out James Shields, who wasn’t overly dominating, but got the big outs when he needed.  Shields pitched six innings, allowing a solo homer by Albert Pujols as well, while striking out six.

If the Royals were going to beat the Angels, they would have to rely heavily and defense and tough pitching.  The Royals staff held the Angels, who won 98 games, to just six runs in the three games.

L.A.’s 2-3-4 hitters of Trout, Pujols and Howie Kendrick hit .083, .167, and .154 respectively.  David Freese who had a homer in the series batted .125 and Josh Hamilton was held hitless.

The Angels went deep four times in the series…all solo homers.