Albert Pujols did not figure to be much involved in Wednesday afternoon’s 11-5 thrashing of the Kansas City Royals as he was not in the starting lineup. Mike Scioscia changes his lineup around more than any other manager in the majors, and this Wednesday was not the exception but the rule. But Pujols was plunked by the Royals on Tuesday evening, and that figured heavily into the events of Wednesday’s game.
Angels ace Jered Weaver hit the Royals 3 hole hitter Lorenzo Cain right above the knee in the first inning, and again in the same spot when Cain came to the plate for the second time. Weaver tossed those pitches so casually, that both times he plunked him, along with the warning assessed by the home plate umpire, went virtually unnoticed. Its much more apparent when a home town batter is plunked, rather than Weaver doing the job.
So when THE Mike Trout came up to bat his next time in the bottom of the fifth, Royals pitcher Luke Hochevar lined up the American League’s best player square in the back. Hochevar was tossed immediately by the home plate ump with a very awkward, upward flailing toss out gesture, as if he was trying to do an upper cut in the old Street Fighter videogame. Hochevar protested, and so did Royals manager Ned Yost.
Considering it was the third hit batter of the game it was hardly a surprise that he was tossed. And Yost protesting was the second manager protest of the game as Mike Scioscia protested a play at the plate while holding a 6-0 lead in the second inning. When leading 6-0 with Weaver on the mound, its best that a manager stick it out in the dugout. The whole lineup save Kendrys Morales and especially Mike Trout had everything to do with the lead as the whole team knocked Hochevar around the ballpark all afternoon.
Hochevar couldn’t have had a much worse day without going onto the DL. He gave up 3 runs in the first and 3 in the second, and 1 each in the third and fourth innings. And his defense committed so many errors it looked like Danny Almonte’s infield if anyone ever hit the ball off the 26 year old Little Leaguer. Hitting Trout must have felt more satisfying than hitting Bryce Harper for Cole Hamels considering how Hochevar was shelled; but when he was tossed in the top of the fifth Hochevar had only thrown 63 pitches! Weaver had already thrown about 15 more pitches and was working a shutout into the sixth.
The ump did not have much sympathy for Hochevar tossing him, but the official scorer seemed to pity all of the fielders. There were at least three plays (two to the Royals and one lazy fly ball straight to Trumbo which he never picked up in the big blue sky) which certainly should have been scored as an error, but were ruled hits. Its like everyone getting trophies in Little League. Everyone is special; we don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings; everyone gets a trophy; and nobody committed an error.
The first four and a half innings took nearly two hours. The sun beat down on the stadium, and it was a big open-air hot box in the Big A. Hardly any stadium personnel were checking tickets for fans moving to lower sections. The sizzling, sun baked seats served as an adequate deterrent to keep most people from moving. It didn’t keep a few brave women with short jean shorts and Angels gear from braving the first degree burns, but then again everyone wants to get close to the possible MVP Mike Trout.
For as much as everyone else on the team played great (Hunter was 4-5, Callaspo 3-4 with an Angels Weekly top 5 play, Bobby Wilson with a solo jack), Mike Trout made the game from the time he stepped into the batters box. He stretched a long liner into left center easily cut off by Lorenzo Cain, into a double. He even stumbled around first, surely should have been thrown out, but was safe. The crowd came to their feet and began to chant “M-V-P—M-V-P!” Adopting that popular chant might mean Angels fans are starting to believe that they are actually the Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim).
When it was said and done, Trout was 2/2, with 3 runs scored, a home run, and 1 run driven in, and was hit by a pitch. After the game he was batting .356, with 16 hrs, 49 RBIs, and 31 stolen bases. The $240 million dollar man, Albert Pujols figured into the game despite his absence from the lineup card, but Mike Trout makes all the more difference for the Angels. From Salmon to Trout, the Angels success has everything to do with a generous helping of seafood.