Sunday, April 10, 2016

Weaver, situational hitting lead Angels to win

 Jered Weaver entered his 2016 season with something to prove, and on Sunday, in his debut against the hard-hitting Rangers, the Angels' longtime ace made a statement.
With a fastball that topped out at 84 mph and a breaking ball that was thrown in the mid-60s, Weaver used pinpoint control and masterful pitch selection to hold the Rangers to just one run through six innings, setting the tone in the Angels' 3-1 victory in the series finale.
"He exemplifies pitching," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said of Weaver, now 11-0 with a 2.23 ERA in his career against Texas at Angel Stadium. "I think it's been talked about to exhaustion, about velocity. When he hits his spots, he's effective."
The Rangers -- who got three of their hits, including a homer, from rookie Nomar Mazara in his MLB debut -- put two runners on in the first, third and fourth innings but never scored, leaving lefty Martin Perez with the loss.
Perez issued five walks and surrendered seven hits, but was charged with just three runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Angels picked up a couple of runs in the third, on a run-scoring groundout byMike Trout and an RBI single by Albert Pujols. Trout tacked on an additional run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh as the Angels evened the four-game series.
"The walks -- that's what I need to work on," Perez said. "I don't want to give up free bases. I need to attack hitters and pound the strike zone."
The Rangers sit 3-4 and will now head to Seattle for a first-week rematch against the Mariners. The Angels, who begin a 10-game road trip on Monday, finished the first week of the season 2-4.
Said Weaver: "Any time you get a win, in the position we were in, either to tie this series or lose a series, it's nice to get a win."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Making it work: Despite all the questions centered on his velocity and overall health,Weaver shined in his 2016 debut, stranding six baserunners to keep the Rangers to only one run in a six-inning, 84-pitch performance. Weaver threw his fastball anywhere from 79 to 84 mph, mixing in a 72-73-mph changeup and breaking balls in the mid-60s. He struck out four and walked one.
"He's a workhorse, man," Angels catcher Geovany Soto said. "He'll give you everything he's got. Anything, any count, he's aggressive coming after you. That's what stood out. He's coming after you at all times. No matter how many guys are on base, who's hitting, he's coming after you. That's one of the things I didn't quite see in spring, but it was great to see today.
Mazara the Magnificent: Mazara singled in his first two at-bats. Then he came up in the fifth inning and launched a 79-mph pitch from Weaver deep into the center-field seats for his first Major League home run. The exit velocity was 105 mph, and the Statcast™ projected distance was 443 feet. Mazara is the eighth Rangers player to hit a home run in his Major League debut and the fifth to have a three-hit game. Joey Gallo had a three-hit game in his debut last year.
"I just wanted to have fun," Mazara said. "Everything seemed normal. That's why I was able to enjoy the game."
Closing the door: A slim lead meant Angels manager Mike Scioscia got to deploy his late-game strategy for the first time this season. Fernando Salas took the ball in the seventh, pitching a 1-2-3 inning to pave the way for Joe Smith and Huston StreetCliff Penningtonchecked in for second baseman Johnny Giavotella for defense. The Angels' bullpen allowed just one baserunner in the final three frames, striking out four.
Clutch hitting failure: The Rangers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position on the afternoon. The fourth inning stood out. Mitch Moreland and Ian Desmond led off the inning with singles, putting runners on first and second. Elvis Andrus followed with a fly to right that moved Moreland to third. But Hanser Alberto, swinging at a first-pitch 72-mph changeup, popped out, and Bryan Holaday struck out to end the inning.
"I still feel like we had an approach that was solid," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "[Weaver] reads at-bats very well and he reads batters very well. He has been around a long time and is a smart pitcher. You've got to get him over the plate and he doesn't give in. It has to be a patient approach."
QUOTABLE
"It makes me look forward to the future in baseball, as opposed to thinking about shutting it down." -- Weaver, on alleviating tightness in his shoulder, hip and back, which allowed him to pitch well against the Rangers
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sunday's victory marked Weaver's 139th career win, passing Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan for second place on the club's all-time list. Chuck Finley is the Angels' leader with 165. Weaver also finished the afternoon with 1,499 career strikeouts. Only five active pitchers have amassed 1,500 with one franchise -- Matt CainFelix HernandezClayton KershawTim Lincecum and Justin Verlander.
"I didn't come here for personal accolades," Weaver said. "I came here to win championships. Today's win was a step in getting to that goal. With that being said, it's very humbling to be put in the same sentence as guys who have done great things for this organization."
WHAT'S NEXT
Rangers: The Rangers open a three-game series with the Mariners at 9:05 p.m. CT Monday at Safeco Field. Right-hander Colby Lewis pitches for the Rangers, who lost two of three to the Mariners last week in Arlington. Hisashi Iwakuma starts for Seattle.
Angels: Nick Tropeano takes the ball opposite A's ace Sonny Gray when the Angels travel to Oakland to begin a three-game series at 7:05 p.m. PT on Monday. Tropeano is taking the rotation spot of an injured Andrew Heaney (left forearm tightness).

Royals score 'wild' walk-off win, series sweep

Speedster Terrance Gore, pinch-running for Christian Colon, scored on a wild pitch from Twins reliever Trevor May with two out in the 10th as the Royals rallied past the winless Twins, 4-3, in walk-off fashion on Sunday at Kauffman Stadium.
After Colon walked, Gore entered and advanced to third on a wild pickoff throw from May. Then with two out, May spiked a curve that got away from catcher John Ryan Murphy by only 10 or 15 feet. But that was enough for Gore, who beat the throw from Murphy to May.
"All I need is a trickle," Gore said, smiling. "I knew I'd make it."
Added manager Ned Yost, "People wonder why we have [Gore] on our roster. That's why. He can win a ballgame with his speed."
The Twins are now 0-6, the only winless team left in the American League.
"We're going home 0-6 and it stares at you right in the face," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "You're hoping with the way our season went last year, our Spring Training, the guys we have expectations for and all that, that we'd get off to a better start."
Down 3-1, the Royals rallied in the ninth off Twins closer Glen Perkins. With one out,Lorenzo Cain singled and scored on a slicing triple to left by Eric HosmerKendrys Morales drove Hosmer in with a deep flyout to right.
Right-hander Ricky Nolasco started for the Twins and walked none and struck out five. He threw 98 pitches, 67 for strikes. Eduardo Nunez had four hits, Joe Mauer had three hits, and Brian Dozier socked his first homer of the season for the Twins.
Right-hander Edinson Volquez gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings for the Royals. He struck out 10, his high as a Royal.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Comeback kids get a break:The Royals had 40 come-from-behind wins in the regular season last year, and eight more in the postseason. So it may not have been a big shock when they got to Perkins, though Hosmer's slicing fly to left probably could have been caught by Eddie Rosario. Hosmer, in fact, was running somewhat lightly to first, perhaps thinking it would be caught. When the ball scooted past Rosario, Hosmer kicked it into gear and made it to third easily. More >
"The big at-bat was Morales'," Yost said. "He stayed with it and drove a ball out there. But that's what we do."
Mauer, Nunez carry offense: Mauer and Nunez each had three hits against Volquez, and both helped spark a two-run rally in the sixth. After a leadoff single from Eddie Rosario, Mauer reached on an infield single. It set up an RBI single from Miguel Sano before Nunez knocked Volquez from the game with at two-out RBI single. Nunez later added a fourth hit in the eighth, and was hit by a pitch on his right forearm in the 10th. He remained in the game to run, but was replaced by Trevor Plouffe in the bottom half of the inning.
Moose jack: Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas provided some spark against Nolasco when he got ahead in the count, 2-1, in the sixth. Moustakas then feasted on a fastball and blasted it into the right-field seats, cutting the lead to 2-1 at the time. It was Moustakas' second homer in as many days.
"I think that home run is what got us going," Hosmer said. "We hadn't been doing much and that gave us some life."
May day: May had trouble with his control in the 10th, walking leadoff hitter Colon on four pitches before committing a throwing error on a pickoff play at first base, allowing Gore to reach third. And the game-winning run came on a wild pitch from May with Cain at the plate.More >
"They put pressure on you and they don't strike out much," said Perkins, who blew his first save opportunity of the year. "They put the ball in play and things happen. It builds up over the course of a game. It's why they won the World Series and went the year before."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Twins fell to 0-6. Only three teams in baseball history have come back from being 0-6 and made the postseason: the 2011 Rays, the 1995 Reds and the 1974 Pirates.
SANO EJECTED
Twins right fielder Miguel Sano was ejected in the seventh inning after arguing with home-plate umpire John Hirschbeck about a called strike three. Max Kepler, who was called up from Triple-A Rochester on Sunday, replaced Sano.
WHAT'S NEXT
Twins: The Twins return for their home opener against the White Sox on Monday at 3:10 p.m. CT. Right-hander Kyle Gibson gets the nod, and is looking to shake off a subpar start in his debut. The Twins are hoping a return home helps jumpstart their season, as they were 46-35 at home in 2015.
Royals: Right-hander Chris Young (0-1, 3.60 ERA) and the Royals start a seven-game road trip through Houston and Oakland with the opener of a four-game set against the Astros on Monday at 7:10 p.m. CT.

Brewers edge Keuchel, win series vs. Astros

The Brewers took what Dallas Keuchel and the Astros gave them on Sunday and turned it into a series win, capitalizing just enough on Keuchel's early walks and Houston's sloppy baserunning for a 3-2 victory at Miller Park.
The Brewers held Houston to one hit after the first inning and took the three-game Interleague series to cap a 3-3 opening homestand. The Astros are 2-4 heading into their home opener on Monday against the World Series champion Royals.
"It was a sloppy game overall and we need to fix a lot of things, especially mentally, and eventually get better," Astros shortstop Carlos Correa said. "Now we go back home and play the Royals, and we have to step up our game and play better baseball."
Jose Altuve hit the game's first pitch for a home run, but the Brewers reclaimed the lead from an uncharacteristically shaky Keuchel in the bottom of the frame and never trailed again. Aaron Hill's two-run single provided an advantage for Brewers starter Jimmy Nelson, who surrendered a pair of solo home runs but struck out nine batters in six-plus innings for his first victory of the season.
Keuchel took the loss after allowing three runs on six hits and six walks (one of which was intentional) in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out eight, but has walked 10 batters in his first two starts of 2016.
"We know that we can compete with teams as long as we stay together and play together," Brewers closer Jeremy Jeffress said after logging his third save with a perfect ninth inning. "Don't try to do too much; just do your own job. I'm telling you, we've got some guys that are going to take us a long way."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Walk this way: Keuchel's season high for walks in a 2015 outing was four, during a June 20 loss to the Mariners. The Brewers walked that many times in the first inning alone on Sunday, and turned those free baserunners into a pair of runs on Hill's go-ahead single. They were Hill's first RBIs in a Brewers uniform. More >
"I give our hitters credit," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "Keuchel's M.O. is to nibble around the strike zone. He got a little late movement out of the zone and we did a nice job laying off."
Mistakes hurt Astros: The Astros made a flurry of mistakes Sunday, the kind that frustrated manager A.J. Hinch. In consecutive innings, Altuve and Correa were tagged out after getting caught in rundowns when they strayed too far off the base, and no one covered first base on a grounder hit by Nelson in the fourth. In the fifth, first baseman Tyler White couldn't catch a throw from Correa and was charged with an error. More >
"I think we've got to make better decisions in certain aspects of the game, but we made a few mental errors today that ended up hurting us," Hinch said. "The one physical mistake they made we didn't capitalize on. It was a close game and small things like that matter."
Escape act: Brewers setup man Michael Blazek created some trouble in the eighth when he walked pinch-hitter Luis Valbuena and then botched an Altuve comebacker, throwing wide of second base to give the Astros two at-bats with the go-ahead runner on base. Blazek recovered to retire George Springer on a flyout to shallow center field and Correa on a routine groundout to shortstop, preserving Milwaukee's 3-2 lead. More >
"You work on it every day in Spring Training, you do it so many times and it happens in a game and don't execute it, it's kind of frustrating," Blazek said. "You have to learn to get over it, forget about it and move on."
Control issues cost Keuchel: Two starts into the season, Keuchel has battled control issues that have seen him walk 10 batters, including the six on Sunday -- four in a 38-pitch first inning. Like he did in New York on Tuesday, Keuchel was able to grind through Sunday's game, lasting 5 2/3 innings, but the walks wound up hurting him en route to taking his first loss of the season. More >
"You can have success all you want in Spring Training or you can get lit up all you want, but that has no correlation to how the regular season feels," Keuchel said. "The heat of competition comes up. The best rise. It was unfortunate that we weren't able to pull it out today."
QUOTABLE
"I think we'd like to play in a little bit warmer weather, but at the same time we've got to come out and have some intensity. It was really sloppy today. It started with me. I've got to get my act straight because everybody else is looking toward me. It was just really sloppy." -- Keuchel
SLIDE RULE CALLED AGAIN
It was not a moment that mattered, because the Astros turned the double play anyway. But considering that Friday's game ended somewhat controversially on the new slide rule, it was notable that the Brewers were charged with the same infraction in the fifth inning on Sunday. Nelson ended the frame by bunting into a double play, catcher to third base to the second baseman covering first, and the umpire signaled immediately for interference on Brewers catcher Martin Maldonado, whose left arm clipped the leg of third baseman Marwin Gonzalez as Maldonado slid into the bag.
MESSING WITH AN OLD FRIEND
Altuve tried to pull a fast one on a former teammate in the third inning. After Chris Carterreached second base on a one-out double, Altuve subtly tucked the baseball into his back pocket while Carter did the same with his batting gloves. Carter flashed a smile when Altuve removed the ball from his pocket and returned it to the pitcher. More >
WHAT'S NEXT
Astros: The Astros will face the defending World Series champion Royals in their home opener at Minute Maid Park at 7:10 p.m. CT Monday. Right-hander Collin McHugh will try to bounce back after he recorded just one out and gave up six runs (five earned) and three hits in his first start Wednesday in New York.
Brewers: The Brewers will aim to spoil the Cardinals' home opener for the second straight year -- if Mother Nature doesn't spoil it first. Rain is in the forecast throughout the day Monday, when Taylor Jungmann is scheduled to face the Cardinals' Michael Wachabeginning at 3:15 p.m. CT. If weather interferes, there is an off-day built into the schedule for Tuesday.

Five and O's: Birds soar into Boston

The Orioles remained undefeated on Sunday with a 5-3 win over the Rays at Orioles Park.
The 5-0 start is just the Orioles' second since moving to Baltimore in 1954. The O's started the season 5-0 in 1970 (and won the World Series that year).
The Orioles travel to Boston on Monday to clash with the Red Sox and their ace, David Price. Right-hander Yovani Gallardo, who is in his first season in Baltimore, will be tasked with keeping the soaring Orioles perfect on the season.
"It's the start of the season," Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said. "We started off with a great homestand. We started off the year pretty well. Let's keep this ball rolling."
The O's got busy in the second when Jonathan Schoop doubled to left off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi to drive home their first run. Joey Rickard added a sacrifice fly, before Manny Machado belted a two-run homer to left-center field to put the Orioles up 4-0. They added an insurance run in the eighth when Machado scored on a wild pitch by Erasmo Ramirez. Machado finished 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, just a triple shy of the cycle.
"The Machado pitch was just a bad pitch selection," Odorizzi said. "It was a cutter. I should have known better than to throw it in there. It just kind of leaped back over the plate. You saw what he did with it."
Corey Dickerson's third home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth, cut the lead to 4-1, and Evan Longoria and Steve Pearce had RBI singles in the fifth to make it a one-run game. But the Orioles' bullpen of Brad BrachMychal GivensDarren O'Day -- who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth -- and Zach Britton shut out the Rays for the final 4 1/3 innings to preserve the win.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Machado leads O's power: The Orioles kept the power coming on Sunday. Machado belted a two-run homer that sparked a four-run second inning for his third home run in the first five games. The Orioles now have hit eight homers in their first five games, a big reason for the 5-0 start.
Dickerson extends the streak: Dickerson's solo home run off Orioles starter Vance Worleyin the fourth extended the Rays' club-record streak to 20 consecutive games in which they have homered, dating back to Sept. 20 against the Orioles. It's the longest home run streak by any team since the Mariners went deep in 23 consecutive games from June 20-July 19, 2013.
Interference on the defense: Dickerson reached first in the fifth with two outs when he swung at a pitch from Worley and hit catcher Matt Wieters' mitt. The catcher's interference call kept the inning alive for Pearce to single home the Rays' third run.
Welcome to the Major Leagues, Kim: Orioles left fielder Hyun Soo Kim went 2-for-3 with a run scored in his Major League debut. Both of his hits were infield singles, the first coming on a slow roller between the mound and third base in the second inning, and the second coming in the seventh on a grounder that shortstop Brad Miller couldn't quite make a play on.
QUOTABLE
"I will keep that in a safe box, Make sure no one takes it." -- Kim on what he'll do with the ball from his first hit
"Felt like we should have gotten a few runs early to help [Odorizzi] out, but we battled. It's early in the season and I think once everything starts clicking I think everything can start going a lot differently." -- Dickerson on Sunday's loss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Sunday's first-pitch temperature of 44 degrees was the coldest the Rays have played in since April 29, 2014 at Boston when the first-pitch temperature at Fenway Park was 43 degrees.
UNDER REVIEW
In the bottom of the fifth, Odorizzi threw over to first base to try to pick off Machado, as he was leading off the bag. First-base umpire Greg Gibson signaled safe when Pearce slapped the tag on Machado. Pearce immediately signaled to the Rays' dugout to challenge the call, which Rays manager Kevin Cash did. After a 1-minute and 23-second delay, the call on the field was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT
Rays: After having an off day on Monday, the Rays will open a three-game series with the Indians on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Matt Moore will make his second start of the season. He allowed three runs in a five-inning no-decision against the Blue Jays on Wednesday in his first start.
Orioles: The Orioles hit the road for the first time this season on Monday, when they meet the Red Sox in their home opener on Monday at 2:05 p.m. at Fenway Park. Gallardo will get his second start of this season after giving up one run in five innings during last Wednesday's win over the Twins.