Appreciative Royals revel in celebration with fans

Appreciative Royals revel in celebration with fans

KANSAS CITY -- Jarrod Dyson did backflips in the infield grass.

His Kansas City teammates leaped for joy in the middle of the diamond at Kauffman Stadium and Sluggerrr, the Royals' mascot, sprinted around the mound carrying the team's flag high above his head.

  Date Time Matchup/Result Network
Gm 1 Oct. 2   KC 3, LAA 2 video
Gm 2 Oct. 3   KC 4, LAA 1 video
Gm 3 Oct. 5   KC 8, LAA 3 video

There was a brief pause in the chaos when the Royals took off their jerseys to change into their new black American League Division Series champion T-shirts with "Our Year" and "Our Time" written across the chest, but the celebration quickly resumed.

It was really happening.

The Royals beat the Angels, 8-3, to complete the three-game sweep in the ALDS and kick off the biggest party in almost three decades at this stadium. The Royals will take on the Orioles in the first game of the AL Championship Series starting Friday in Baltimore, but now, it's time to celebrate.

"Give [general manager] Dayton Moore and his people credit and give Ned [Yost] credit, they have worked hard at this for a long time," Royals owner David Glass said. "They have stayed the course and they have not deviated. They've done it the right way. Other teams in baseball tell me that we have done it the right way and I'm really proud of them."

Inside the winning clubhouse, the players gathered in the middle of the room and chanted, "Now, we go! Now, we go! Now, we go!"

There were high-fives, hugs and lockers protected with plastic sheets. There were bottles and bottles of champagne. Kelvin Herrera ran around spraying everyone in sight, but he wasn't the only one.

"This is incredible and I don't have the words to describe the way I am feeling right now," Royals catcher Salvador Perez said. "I'm so happy for our team, our organization and this city. I just want to thank all of the fans for their support because we hear them."

The televisions in the clubhouse showed teammates on the field, running around the warning track and celebrating with the fans. In one corner, Royals legend George Brett shook hands with every player that passed him in the hallway. He's treated like a king at Kauffman Stadium, but he knew the celebration belonged to the players on the field. Similarly, Moore popped in and out of the coach's office, soaking it all in while letting his players enjoy the spotlight.

"This means a lot, but we are not satisfied," Alex Gordon said. "We are going to put up a fight against Baltimore and have some fun with that. We are excited that we are still going to have some games."

The images on the field were just as memorable. And there were plenty of them.

Who can forget Gordon's bases-clearing double in the first inning to give the Royals a 3-1 lead and knock Angels starter C.J. Wilson out of the game. The picture of Billy Butler chugging around the bases with Gordon speeding not far behind him will forever be embedded in the heart of Kansas City baseball folklore.

Then there's Eric Hosmer's two-run home run to deep left-center in the third inning, the one that put the Royals ahead, 5-1, and unleashed the unbridled joy in the home dugout. What was Hosmer screaming to his teammates after that homer? It didn't matter, but it was loud and it was intense.

Butler walked on six pitches and stole second base. Repeat: Butler stole a base in a real-life game in the playoffs. He had not stolen a base since July 5, 2012.

"It was the only time I had to green light, so I had to take advantage of it," Butler said.

There's also the long home run by Mike Mooooustakas and Big Game James Shields living up to his nickname, flexing his muscles after striking out Chris Iannetta to end the top of the sixth on his 105th and final pitch.

Picture Lorenzo Cain. Again and again. The center fielder made yet another spectacular catch, this time on Albert Pujols in the fifth inning, and skidded five yards with the ball in his glove. Cain made another great running catch on the very next play, pumped both arms and screamed all the way to the dugout.

He was the portrait of defense.

And through it all, the Royals fans, dressed from head to toe in every shade of blue, roared, waving their white and blue towels while chanting: "Let's go, Royals." The fans broke out with the "I believe that we will win," chorus made famous by the U.S. national soccer teams, and they owned it.

"The fans were tremendous," Butler said. "That was incredible. They are passionate and they have every right to be. We are giving them a good product on the field and they are responding, even better than how we are playing. They are tremendous out there."

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.