He was asked to move to second base and to the top of the order Saturday because that’s what his ailing team needed.
Hired instigator Ian Kinsler had just been placed on the disabled list, the Angels losing their spark to a strained adductor.
So they turned to Zack Cozart to start things off and, on the game’s second pitch, he tripled.
Maybe a minute later, Cozart was crossing home on a Mike Trout double and the Angels were en route to claiming an opportunity-exploiting 8-3 victory over Oakland.
“Getting that first one out of the way,” Cozart said, “and getting a quick lead like that is big.”
He and Trout finished a combined fivefor nine with four RBI and four runs scored, this team with the deeper lineup in 2018 is deep enough to absorb -- at least for one day -- the absence of Kinsler.
With that promising beginning, the Angels built a 7-0 lead thanks to fully seizing on a few chances the A’s and the game itself gifted them.
In the third inning, Rene Rivera led off with a drive that could have been caught or played conservatively into a single.
Instead, a diving Khris Davis in left field allowed the ball to slide past him, giving Rivera a double.
With runners at first and third, Justin Upton hit a ground ball to short, a ground ball that could have ended the inning as a double play.
Rather than get two outs, Oakland got none when Marcus Semien bobbled the ball and threw late to first.
Albert Pujols then singled to drive in Trout, and the Angels had a two-run rally made possible only because the A’s gave them at least three extra outs.
Three innings later, the Angels scored three more times in the most unlikely manner possible -- after three were out.
The inning appeared over when Jefry Marte was ruled out trying to advance to third on a pitch in the dirt. Video review overturned that judgment.
Cozart then doubled in two runs and Trout singled home Cozart, the Angels by now getting under the skin of this entire organization.
Shortly after one of Trout’s three hits, the A’s official Twitter feed shared with its 533,352 followers this message: “Please leave us alone, Mike Trout. What have we ever done to you?”
The touchdown’s worth of offense looked to be plenty as Matt Shoemaker took a shutout into the sixth.
He needed only three pitches to secure the first two outs of the inning but then walked Jed Lowrie by throwing four consecutive balls.
“Being honest, that’s atrocious,” Shoemaker said. “I gotta find a way to refocus.”
The right-hander never would get the final out of the sixth, eventually surrendering three runs as the Angels turned to four relievers to seal the victory.
Luke Bard closed with a scoreless ninth in his big league debut. The 27-year-old struck out two and had both baseballs afterward to prove it.
Those in attendance to witness the occasion included his parents, wife, father-in-law and even his dog, a service animal.
“I was so nervous I don’t know if I felt anything,” Bard said. “It was kind of just a blur. It was so much fun. A dream come true, it really was.”