Going into Friday’s series-opening game with the Houston Astros, Garrett Richards knew his Los Angeles Angels’ offense was better than they’ve shown thus far. However, he may not have expected the 11-run outburst that earned the Halos their first victory of 2014.
Richards overpowered Astros’ batters through his five-inning, seven-strikeout outing. He coasted through the first four frames before allowing a bases-loaded walk to Jose Altuve that scored Matt Dominguez from third. Richard and Astros left fielder Marc Krauss then entangled in 10-pitch battle that ultimate fell in Richards’ favor. The Angels’ right-hander allowed only three hits but walked five batters in earning his first win of the season.
Angels relievers combined to throw four shutout innings, lowering what was an MLB-worst 8.33 ERA. Fernando Salas replaced Richards to begin the sixth inning and immediately found himself in a bases-loaded jam. He escaped unscathed after striking out Marwin Gonzalez and forcing Alex Presley to ground out. It was the first outing in which the Angels bullpen didn’t allow a run.
Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, and Kole Calhoun each homered in the 11-1 victory. Hamilton, who feasted on Houston pitching last season to the tune of six home runs and 10 RBs, reached base in each of his four plate appearances. He followed a first inning walk with back-to-back singles, and capped the night with a three-run homer off former Angel righty Jerome Williams.
Proving that his throwing arm is just as dangerous as his bat, Trout earned his first outfield assist since 2012 when he gunned down Marc Krauss at home plate. Trout charged Astros first baseman Jesus Guzman’s looping single to center and fired a bullet home to preserve the early lead. His assist and first-inning home run motivated the Angels in avoiding a 0-4 start.