KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Royals waited nearly three decades to return to the postseason. Now that they're here, they want to stick around for a while.
Alex Gordon hit a bases-clearing double in the first inning, Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas homered, and wild-card Kansas City finished off a sweep of the Angels with an emphatic 8-3 victory Sunday night in the American League Division Series.
The scrappy team with the quirky manager, popgun offense, dynamic defense and lights-out bullpen opens the AL Championship Series against the Orioles on Friday night in Baltimore. Kansas City went 4-3 against the O's in the regular season.
The Angels, 98-64 in the regular season, became the second team in the divisional era that began in 1969 to have the best record in the majors and get swept out of the playoffs. By coincidence, the Royals dealt the same humiliating fate to the Yankees in the 1980 ALCS.
Stalking around the mound amid an electric atmosphere, former Ray James Shields lived up to his "Big Game James" nickname. The Royals ace gave up homers to Mike Trout and Albert Pujols but otherwise held in check a suddenly punchless Los Angeles lineup.
The highest-scoring team in baseball managed six runs in the series.
Shields got plenty of help from the gloves that made spectacular plays in every game. In this one, it was Lorenzo Cain making back-to-back diving grabs in centerfield in the fifth inning to end an Angels rally and preserve a five-run lead.
The Royals coasted the rest of the way to their seventh straight postseason victory, dating to Game 5 of the 1985 World Series, the last time they were in the playoffs. George Brett, the star of that team, watched from an upstairs suite and raised his arms when closer Greg Holland fanned Trout for the final out.
This bunch of Royals is making up for all that lost time.
Kansas City played a 12-inning thriller against the Athletics in the wild-card game and a pair of 11-inning games in Los Angeles before returning home to an adoring crowd at Kauffman Stadium.