Royals can't keep Angels under wraps in finale

Royals can't keep Angels under wraps in finale

Royals can't keep Angels under wraps in finale
ANAHEIM -- Let's see, Angels pitcher Jered Weaver came to the mound with a 12-1 record and 2.20 ERA this season. He'd won his previous four starts against the Royals with a 0.49 ERA.

Given those formidable statistics, the prevailing wisdom for the Royals in Wednesday's game was to keep it close against Weaver and then hope for a shot at the Angels' bullpen.

On the plus side, the Royals did get their chance at the bullpen. But on the negative side, they didn't keep it close.

Primarily, that was because the Royals and starting pitcher Luke Hochevar freely dispensed six runs in the first two innings on the way to an 11-6 loss to the Angels -- and Weaver -- on a gorgeous afternoon with 39,107 fans noisily inhabiting the Big A.

"We don't play sloppy very often but we did today in the first two innings, that's for sure," Royals manager Ned Yost said.

The Royals got some big blasts -- a two-run homer by Billy Butler, who also had an RBI single, and a three-run shot by Jeff Francoeur. But it all came too late.

Now, for the Weaver approach. The idea was to inflate his pitch count and prompt an early departure. That worked because after five innings he was up to 101 pitches and was out of the game.

"We did exactly what we wanted to do with him," Yost said. "He's a guy that's got great command, never gives in, throws the ball off the corners trying to get you to swing at it, and we did a good job of taking those pitches. And if you can get two runs off of Weaver, you've done a pretty good job and getting him out after the fifth inning, you've done a real good job. We did both of those things, but the score was lopsided by then."

Yes, indeed. When Weaver left, it was 8-2.

How bad were those first two innings? Well, Hochevar gave up five hits, made two wild pitches and snoozed as the sixth run scored. His teammates contributed two errors in the second inning and it probably should have been three.

"I was bad," Hochevar said.

In the first inning, four of the first five Angels batters got hits -- bracketed by doubles from Mike Trout and Alberto Callaspo -- for three runs. Hochevar wild-pitched Trout home with the first run.

The second inning was its own little shop of horrors.

Shortstop Alcides Escobar booted Peter Bourjos' grounder although it was ruled a hit and first baseman Eric Hosmer bobbled Bobby Wilson's sacrifice bunt. Third baseman Mike Moustakas stabbed Trout's grounder, stepped on the bag for a forceout and fired the ball wildly past first base for the inning's second official error. Hunter followed with a two-run single, taking second on the throw-in and third on a wild pitch.

Hochevar must have been distracted by all the hubbub because when he fielded Mark Trumbo's tap near the mound, he forgot there was just one out. Thought there were two. Oh, my.

As Hochevar was about to lob to first base, he caught sight of Hunter dashing home. Too late. Hunter scored and all Hochevar could do was throw to first for the second out.

"That was just a bad mental error on my part," Hochevar said. "All the way around, it was just bad."

Weaver's lead got to 8-0 as the Angels added a run in the third and another in the fourth on Wilson's homer. That presaged Hochevar getting ejected from the game. With a 3-0 count on the next batter, Trout, an inside pitch hit him on the hand. Home-plate umpire Bob Davidson immediately ejected Hochevar for what the umpire apparently felt was a premeditated act.

Oh, it was one of those days.

After Butler followed Escobar's single with a home run -- his 20th -- off the left-field pole in the fifth, Weaver completed the inning and was finished.

"He had to work very hard to get to that part of the game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He got through five innings ... but he had to work to get some outs. They were pressuring him. Give Kansas City credit. They wore him down and after five innings, that was enough."

The first two relievers, Jason Isringhausen and LaTroy Hawkins, each pitched a perfect inning. But Scott Downs ran into trouble in the eighth, with a walk to Butler, a single by Salvador Perez and Francoeur's three-run homer to left.

Francoeur connected after striking out in his first three at-bats, which left him in an 0-for-15 skid. He went to hitting coach Kevin Seitzer for in-game help.

"I'm seeing it, I'm swinging and I'm just missing," Francoeur said. "He said my path was a lot better, but I was just coming under the ball. So he wanted me to almost chop straight down on the ball, like I was chopping wood and come down hard. And it worked on the next one."

That gave the Royals hope, putting them within three runs at 8-5.

But, in the Angels' half, Bourjos led off with a single against Everett Teaford, who had pitched four shutout innings in relief of Hochevar. Right-hander Louis Coleman relieved lefty Teaford and gave up back-to-back homers to right-handed batters Trout, a two-run shot, and Hunter.

It was 11-5 and the Royals could look back on a sloppy game.

"I hate 'em," Yost said. "Everybody hates 'em because they don't look good, the fans don't like 'em, we don't like 'em but over the course of 162 games, you're bound to have a few of 'em. We don't have very many of 'em, but we had one today. The thing I was happy about is we rebounded after the second inning and played pretty decent baseball from that point on."

Dick Kaegel is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.