They had a little ceremony before Saturday’s game to honor Mike Trout for winning his second MVP award last season. Then he started off 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
But this being Trout, generally considered baseball’s best position player, he still had his moment, crushing a two-run homer in the seventh to lead the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the Mariners.
It highlighted a nice night for the Angels’ offense. Yunel Escobar had three hits, including a double and home run. Albert Pujols lined three more hits and the Angels finished with 13 on the night. For Trout, it was his second home run of the season and broke a 3-3 tie.
Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco got off to what might be called a slow start. Jean Segura opened the game with sharp single to center and outfielder Mitch Haniger followed with a full-count two-run homer.
Two batters into the game and the Angels were down, 2-0.
Nolasco, however, did not give up another run. He went six innings, the first Angel pitcher to do so this season, allowing the two runs on four hits and a walk. He struck out three.
“It’s not the first time I’ve given up two runs in the first and won’t be the last,” Nolasco said. “You just keep battling.”
The Angels, meanwhile, went about tying the score back up against right-hander Felix Hernandez.
Hernandez went to an epic 14-pitch at-bat against Trout — a career-high for both players — before catching him looking on the final pitch to end the first.
“He made a great pitch,” Trout said. “It’s always a battle with him. We have good battles. It’s always fun facing him.”
But Pujols led off the bottom of the second inning with a double, the finish at second at least made interesting by a sore right foot that leaves him something less than fleet.
Still, it made for the 603rd double of his career, tying him with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14th on baseball’s all-time list.
Cameron Maybin’s single moved him to third and Danny Espinosa’s base hit scored him.
The Angels tied the score in the bottom of the inning after Escobar doubled. He took third on a Hernandez wild pitch and scored on Kole Calhoun’s single.
Escobar’s home run gave the Angels a 3-2 lead in the fifth, but the Mariners tied it off JC Ramirez in the seventh on a Kyle Seager double and Mike Zunino single.
All to set things up for Trout in the bottom of the inning.
Manager Mike Scioscia brought in his best reliever, Cam Bedrosian, with one out in the eighth to face the heart of Seattle’s order. Bedrosian threw 18 pitches in the eighth but then came back to pitch the ninth. He struck out the side in the ninth for the five-out save.
“He felt great when he got out of the eighth,” Scoscia said. “He had some gas in his tank. And we’re closer to the day off on Monday.”
Pujols was one for 20 this season until his leadoff double in the second inning Saturday, but Scioscia said he wasn’t particularly concerned: “Albert historically is a slower starter, but it doesn’t take him very long to find it. And when he does, it stays there for a long time.” … Scioscia said following Monday’s off-day left-hander Tyler Skaggs would start Tuesday, which would have been Garrett Richards (biceps) next turn. The Angels now won’t have to replace him in the rotation until Saturday. … Scioscia has been oddly reluctant to name Bedrosian his closer, if partially because he may use him before the ninth if the heart of the opposing lineup is due up. Still, it seems clear Bedrosian is currently No. 1 in the bullpen. Said Scioscia: I don’t think there’s any question Cam is a guy who jumped up last year. I think he has the opportunity to be that lead dog in that group.”