Offense Struggles Early, Mike Trout Takes Over as Angels Best Astros

HOUSTON: There wasn’t a whole lot of offense to go around for much of this game as we only had three total hits through the first four innings. But we did have a run. Kole Calhoun led off the fourth with a triple to deep center field, just out of the reach of Jake Marisnick. Mike Trout came up next and struck out on a 2-2 fastball high and in, and Albert Pujols walked on five pitches to bring up Matt Joyce. Joyce, who struck out in his first at-bat, came through with a fly ball to left-center field. Rasmus caught it and made a strong throw home, but an awkward hop allowed Calhoun to score underneath the tag. 1-0 Angels

Chris Carter led off the bottom of the fifth for Houston with an infield single to deep short that Aybar lost the handle on, and two hitters later, Jake Marisnick did the same on a hit-and-run to short. That brought up the reigning AL batting champion in Jose Altuve. Altuve came through with a single that bounced right over second base to score Carter from second. A stolen base by Altuve put runners on second and third with only one out and George Springer was at the plate. Springer lined one into left field that would have been deep enough to score, but Marisnick left third a second early and was forced to return to third. Jed Lowrie grounded out to second a hitter later leaving two runners in scoring position in the fifth. Astros Manager A.J. Hinch spoke about the offense after the game, “We seemed to scratch and claw a couple of runs or one run at a time, but never got multiple hits in a row when we needed them. We got runs to get back into the game, and then they get a double play ball.”

In the sixth, with one out and Calhoun on first, Trout stepped up to the plate in a big spot with the game tied. In a full count, Trout got a fastball at the knees that caught a little too much of the plate and delivered it into the Crawford Boxes for his second homer of the year. This one to the Crawford Boxes was Mike Trout’s 100th round tripper of his career as he became the youngest player in MLB history to reach 100 home runs and 100 stolen bases (23 years 251 days old). He is also only the second player in ML history to record his 100th HR in the year that he turned 23. The other was Alex Rodriguez.

With two outs in the bottom half of the sixth, Jason Castro put Houston on the board for the second time in the evening with a 2-2 homer of his own. The round tripper was Castro’s first of the year. 3-2

Both teams went to the bullpen in the seventh with Houston’s Will Harris entering the game. After Harris pitched a scoreless seventh, the Angels went to the pen for Jose Alvarez. Coming in to pinch hit for Houston was Robbie Grossman who hit a blooper over the head of the second baseman for a single. After another pitching change and subsequent pinch hitter entered, Vinnie Pestano faced Johnathan Villar who also hit a blooper over the second baseman’s head to put runners on first and second with no one out. Altuve then walked to load the bases for Springer, who SAC flied to right field to tie the game and put runners on the corners with 1 out, but a double play (6-4-3) retired the side and left us all tied up at 3.

The Angels went back to work in the 8th though as Trout came up again with a chance to do some damage. Trout proceeded to hit his second homer of the game, this time a three-run screamer to right field against Chad Qualls. This marks the fourth time in Trout’s career that he’s had multiple homers in a game (last came in Sept. 2014 against Houston). “He clearly put two good swings on the ball and it burned us both times. On the first homer, Roberto makes a mistake, and Qualls in that at-bat made a couple of really good pitches but he stays in the at-bat and then goes oppo.” That would be all of the offense that the Angels needed as the pen closed out the Astros in the eighth and ninth for a 6-3 LA victory in the series opener.

Getting the win for the Angels was Cesar Ramos (1-0) who pitched .2 of an inning in relief in the seventh for the Angels. Chad Qualls (0-1) will get the loss on the mound for Houston after the Mike Trout three run homer. Huston Street (4th save) came on to finish out the game in the ninth for the Angels. Both teams are back in action Saturday at 6:10 for game two of the three game set.

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