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Angels are done in by Royals' youth in 7-3 loss

Kansas City gets a combined two home runs and six runs batted in from Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler to win the deciding game of the season-opening series.

April 08, 2012|By Lance Pugmire

The Angels made it clear in the off-season that investing more dollars is their preferred route to winning.

The Kansas City Royals on Sunday reminded them there's also value in something less: years.

Relying on home runs and a combined six runs batted in from their young No. 3 and cleanup hitters, Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler, Kansas City captured the deciding game of the season-opening series with a 7-3 victory at Angel Stadium.

"They're aggressive, they're up there swinging — everything went their way today," Angels starter Ervin Santana said after laboring through a 96-pitch Easter outing that lasted 5 2/3 innings.

Hosmer, a 22-year-old from Florida picked third overall by the Royals in the 2008 amateur draft, struck Santana's 77th pitch for a two-run home run over the right-field wall in the fifth inning.

Hosmer's homer — his second of the series — gave the Royals a 5-2 lead.

The Angels' game-long attempts to rally were thwarted by their 0-for-13 performance with runners in scoring position.

"When you're behind, that's going to make it tough," Manager Mike Scioscia said as the team prepared to depart to Minnesota for a three-game series that begins Monday at 1 p.m. Pacific. "We need to set up the game on our terms. We will. We have a good club.

"Three games in, guys are trying to find their comfort level in the batter's box. [This] is not the way it's going to be for the season."

The 25-year-old Butler, after homering against Santana for a 3-0 lead in the first inning, added a run-scoring double in the seventh to move Kansas City ahead 7-2.

The Royals, at just over $35 million, have the smallest payroll in baseball, a full $103 million less than the Angels.

"These guys … perform well beyond their experience because they're that talented," Scioscia said. "Of all the teams in our league, they have an incredible upside. You have to pitch well against them. That's a given."

Complicating those matters, converted third baseman Mark Trumbo made his third error in two starts.

With a runner at second and one out in the sixth, Trumbo fumbled a routine grounder hit by Lorenzo Cain that made him shift slightly to his right. A two-out infield single scored another run.

Santana's turbulent afternoon began when he hit Alcides Escobar on the arm with a high, inside pitch. Escobar stole second on the next pitch, and scored on a looped single by Hosmer before Butler's homer. Of Santana's 96 pitches, 43 were balls.

"I didn't have fastball command," Santana said, adding he had "no idea" why control evaded him. "I wish I knew. I would've fixed it. I just have to focus."

At least $240-million slugger Albert Pujols' bat is warm as the Angels trek to Minnesota, then New York this week.

Pujols knocked in his first run as an Angel with a first-inning groundout and added a fifth-inning single against Jonathan Sanchez, along with a seventh-inning double.

"Stay with us, we're working hard," Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick said after getting three hits and scoring a run. "We've got a great team. If we're down about losing two of three, why are we even here?"

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimespugmire

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