The Royals became the first team to sweep the Angels at home in a little more than a year, won the season series for the first time since 1996, swept the Angels in Anaheim for the first time since 1995, and snapped the Angels' streak of nine consecutive series victories this season. Kansas City finished a nine-game road trip with a 5-4 record.
Manager Buddy Bell was thankful, but just as happy to get out of Anaheim.
"We played about as well as we could the last three days and caught them at a time when they weren't playing so good," Bell said. "But I would prefer not to have to play these guys a whole lot. They're just ahead of us experience-wise."
What the Royals got out of this sweep was another dose of experience. Joey Gathright used raw speed to generate the game's only run in the third inning and scored on Mark Teahen's jam-job base hit. Left-hander Jorge De La Rosa may have saved his job in the starting rotation with six shutout innings. Relievers David Riske, Joakim Soria and Octavio Dotel turned it into a six-inning affair. Backup catcher Jason LaRue threw out a pair of runners. De La Rosa picked the tying run off second in the sixth and the Royals had their first 1-0 victory in more than a year.
"It seems like, as of late, in big situations, we've done a great job of playing fundamental baseball," LaRue said. "When you play fundamental baseball, you'll win lots of games. Consistency is what it's all about. That's what keeps you here for a long time. The progress these kids have made since Day 1 has been unbelievable."
The 33-46 record might not reflect that, but several moments on Wednesday did. De La Rosa (5-9) hadn't won since May 13. He scattered 10 hits in six innings, but helped himself by walking one and getting 11 ground-ball outs. He got Vladimir Guerrero to hit into a double play in the first and Kendry Morales to do the same in the fifth.
De La Rosa had better command to complement his fastball's sinking action. He also trapped Chone Figgins off second base after Figgins doubled with one out in the sixth.
LaRue threw out runners in the third and fourth innings and guided De La Rosa through an outing that did not have a perfect inning.
"[De La Rosa] was much more controlled and had much better command than in his last few outings," Bell said. "He's got plenty of stuff. It's just command issues when he gets in trouble. When he has an idea where the ball is going, he's pretty good."
De La Rosa departed after Robb Quinlan and Howie Kendrick began the seventh with singles to put runners on first and second. Enter Riske, who struck out Morales. Riske got pinch-hitter Casey Kotchman to pop up to foul territory near third base, but shortstop Tony Pena dropped a routine ball. A pitch later, Riske popped up Kotchman again, and this time, Pena didn't flinch.
Riske got Erick Aybar to ground out to end the seventh, and Soria and Dotel retired all six batters they faced, with Dotel earning his ninth save on only 11 pitches.
The pitching and defense preserved the third-inning run. Gathright beat out a bunt single, stole second, took third on a shallow fly to right and scored when Teahen fought off an inside pitch from Jered Weaver (6-4) and dumped it into shallow left field. The Angels (49-30), were outscored 18-5 in three games. The Royals improved to 14-11 in June.
"I don't think this was a fluke," Teahen said. "We played well and outplayed them. It seemed like we were a step ahead and got what we needed."
Told that Bell had said this was as good as the Royals can play right now, Teahen didn't disagree.
"I guess at this time, maybe, but I don't want to put a ceiling on it," he said. "I think we can continue to get better and play a lot better than this."
For three days, at least, the Royals proved him right.