3 up, 3 down: Angels 6, Athletics 0
April, 16, 2012
By Blair Angulo | ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Before Monday night's game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia spoke at length about the importance of quality starts. He knew the numbers: Angels starting pitchers had produced only three quality outings through nine games, and newcomer C.J. Wilson was responsible for two of those.
Scioscia's ace answered the call.
Jered Weaver tossed 6 2/3 innings of shutout ball and designated hitter Kendrys Morales slugged his first home run in nearly two years to lead the Angels to a 6-0 win against the Oakland Athletics in the opener of the four-game series.
Flashback. Morales had to smile while rounding the bases for the first time since May 2010. With one out in the first, Howie Kendrick and Albert Pujols singled to set the table, and Morales followed with a towering home run to left-center field that sailed past the outstretched glove of A's center fielder Coco Crisp.
Milestone. By getting A's outfielder Josh Reddick to swing through an 80 mph changeup in the sixth, Weaver became the eighth pitcher in franchise history to record 1,000 career strikeouts. He received a standing ovation as a bright, giant "1,000" flashed on the Angel Stadium video board. With the punchout, Weaver and older brother Jeff became the sixth set of siblings to reach the milestone.
Bounce back. Left-handed reliever Scott Downs pitched a scoreless eighth in his first appearance since suffering an ankle injury April 12 at Minnesota. Downs, who had been listed as day-to-day over the weekend, allowed a two-out double to the left-handed hitting Reddick but got pinch hitter Jonny Gomes to ground out.
Leadoff. Shortstop Erick Aybar went hitless in five at-bats and saw his batting average dip to less than .200. It's early in the season, but don't be surprised if Scioscia gives him a day off to clear his mind, the way he did with Kendrick in New York. Everyone will be reminded of Aybar's worth before Thursday's series finale, when he'll be presented with his 2011 Gold Glove Award.
Drought. It's taking longer than expected, that's for sure. Pujols, who led the American League with seven home runs this spring, failed to leave the yard once again. He has yet to homer as an Angel -- the stretch of 41 homer-less at-bats to start the season is the longest of his career.
Defense. The Angels committed three fielding errors, including two in the ninth that forced reliever LaTroy Hawkins to make 31 pitches. The Angels did not have multiple errors in any inning last season.