High-wire pitching act ends badly for Angels
The optimism associated with the home opener was tempered Tuesday for the Angels, who lost Jered Weaver for four to six weeks after the right-hander was diagnosed with a broken bone in his left elbow, a huge blow for a team that was lacking in pitching depth before its ace got hurt.
Left-hander C.J. Wilson, who has developed a flair for the erratic, put another damper on the festivities in Angel Stadium with an ugly 43-pitch first inning in which he gave up three runs on three hits and three walks, all after two were out, sparking boos among the home crowd.
Then came the ultimate indignity. After rallying from a four-run deficit to take a one-run lead in the sixth, Angels reliever Kevin Jepsen was pounded for five runs in the seventh, John Jaso’s pinch-hit, three-run homer and Brandon Moss’ two- run homer leading the Oakland Athletics to a 9-5 victory.
Despite his brutal start, Wilson, was actually in line for a win, retiring 15 of 17 batters after Coco Crisp’s leadoff homer in the second. Wilson went six innings, giving up six hits, striking out seven and walking three, his pitch count at 110 when he yielded to left-hander Scott Downs.
The Angels rallied for three in the sixth to take a 5-4 lead, Mike Trout (leadoff triple) and Howie Kendrick (go-ahead RBI triple) providing the key hits and the A’s committing two costly errors, one when right fielder Chris Young dropped Josh Hamilton’s routine fly ball for an error.
Crisp led off the seventh with an infield single, and Downs struck out Young and Jed Lowrie. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia summoned the right-handed Jepsen to face cleanup batter Yoenis Cespedes, who walked.
Oakland Manager Bob Melvin called on left-handed-hitting Jaso to hit for Derek Norris, but Scioscia did not even have his second left-hander, Sean Burnett warming up.
Jepsen, who has yielded a career .241 average and .302 on-base percentage to right-handed hitters and a .297 average and .377 OBP to lefties, remained to face Jaso, who homered off the top of the short wall in right for a three-run homer and a 7-5 lead.
Josh Donaldson singled, and Moss, another left-handed hitter, crushed a two-run homer to right-center for a 9-5 lead. Jepsen, with Burnett beginning to warm up, retired Nate Freiman on a fly ball to end the inning.
More bad news for the Angels: Shortstop Erick Aybar was pulled in the third because of a bruised left heel, an injury he suffered beating out an infield single. The switch-hitter is listed as day to day.
A third-inning baserunning blunder by Albert Pujols was also costly.
The slugger followed Aybar’s hit with a single, and Josh Hamilton, who struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded in the first, crushed a fly ball to deep left.
Pujols was so sure the ball would go over Cespedes’ head he ran past second, but Cespedes made a nice over-the-shoulder catch and threw to the infield in time to double off Pujols.
Trumbo followed with a run-scoring single, Kendrick singled, and Alberto Callaspo hit an RBI single to center to make it 4-2, but Pujols’ error in judgment cost the Angels a run.