Trout's HR, stellar Weaver help Angels edge White Sox
By Scott Merkin and Alden Gonzalez
CHICAGO -- Jered Weaver kept the White Sox offense off-balance for seven innings, Mike Trout launched a two-run homer in the fifth, and the Angels hung on against a White Sox ninth-inning rally for a 3-2 victory Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field and a split of this four-game series.
Weaver, whose velocity ranged from 67.2-86.1 mph, allowed one run on three hits, striking out two and walking two. That one run came via Melky Cabrera's solo homer in the seventh, marking his first long ball of the season.
"Nothing but positives," Trout said of Weaver. "Each outing, it's getting better. [His velocity] is coming back. I thought I saw some 86's up there. But it doesn't matter to him. He's out there hitting his spots. That's how he is. He's a competitor."
John Danks suffered the loss, yielding the two runs on five hits over six innings. He struck out two and walked five, but the southpaw managed to pitch out of trouble until Trout got to him. Andrelton Simmons reached base with a one-out single in the fifth and was on the move when Trout connected on Danks' 1-1 fastball. Despite the quality start, Danks slipped to 0-3 on the season.
"He's pitching better," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't think anyone out there early was breaking the radar gun. We needed to do something, and Weaver kept spinning it in there, taking something off, and we couldn't get it going."
The Angels tacked on an important insurance run in the ninth inning, when catcher Carlos Perez executed a suicide squeeze -- after fouling off his first attempt -- to score Kole Calhoun.
The White Sox then made an impressive late run at Angels closer Huston Street. After two easy outs, Todd Frazier got behind 1-2 in the count as the inning's third and potentially final hitter. The third baseman smacked one to right for an opposite-field homer. Street then proceeded to walk Cabrera and Brett Lawrie. Austin Jackson connected on the next pitch for what looked like a walk-off three-run homer off the bat, only to have Craig Gentry haul it in a step or two from the left-field wall.
"It was close. In the summer that probably goes, but it didn't sound like he got it as well as he could have," Ventura said. "I appreciate and like the effort in the ninth inning of being able to bring the winning run at the plate or put it on base and grind out a ninth inning. I like that about our team."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Starting to come around: Trout crushed a two-run homer in the fifth inning, turning on an 88-mph fastball right down the middle, and is seemingly starting to come around at the plate. The superstar center fielder finished 2-for-2 with a couple of walks and has reached base in seven of his last eight plate appearances, dating back to the start of Wednesday's game. He is now hitting .286/.397/.446.
Living on the edge: Danks put two runners on base in each of the first two innings but managed to escape unscathed. A key moment came in the first when Danks walked Simmons and Trout, before falling behind at 3-1 on Albert Pujols. But Danks retired Pujols on a popup to shortstop Jimmy Rollins and got out of the inning. Gentry grounded into a double-play in the second, which helped erase the first two hitters reaching base.
"I was able to make some pitches when I had to and let these guys work behind me," Danks said.
Believe in Weave: Weaver continued to defy critics with a brilliant seven-inning outing, allowing only one run -- a solo homer by Cabrera -- in seven innings. Weaver limited Chicago to three hits and two walks, striking out two. The 33-year-old right-hander threw several fastballs at 84 and 85 mph, even hitting 86 in the sixth. Weaver, who threw his fastball 79-81 mph in Spring Training, felt his velocity could pick up as he continued to add strength in his shoulder.
"Everything was working well," Perez said in Spanish. "The fastball had plenty of life today, but all of his pitches were good. He was aggressive."
Early departure: With one out in the eighth, pinch-runner Tyler Saladino had eyes on stealing second to move the tying run into scoring position. The problem was that reliever Joe Smith was ready for Saladino's break, catching him on an early jump. Saladino eventually was tagged out in a rundown.
"He was just trying to pick a pitch to go on, and they got him," Ventura said. "He's one of our basestealers, and they picked a good time to get him."
"This isn't about Mike. It's not about one guy. We've got to be able to pressure teams from top to bottom, and we haven't gotten that part of our game going. Everybody in the bottom of the lineup will have to be tough outs. … This isn't about one guy." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on an offense that has still scored four runs or fewer in 13 of 16 games
"When you're hitting .190, you're a .190 hitter and there's a reason why you're doing it, probably because you're chasing pitches. Is he better than that? Do we expect more of him? Absolutely, and we have confidence he's going to do that. As soon as he stops chasing it, he's going to be just fine."--Ventura on Jose Abreu, who has opened the season with 11 hits in 58 at-bats
"Just play Wiffle ball like you are little. Take it as a knuckleball pitcher and slow everything down." -- Frazier, on how to hit Weaver
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Weaver is now 7-0 with a 2.18 ERA in his last seven starts against the White Sox, becoming the first pitcher to win seven consecutive starts against them since Justin Verlander (2009-11).
With his save on Thursday, Street tied Todd Jones for 18th place on the all-time list with 319. Next up is Jose Mesa, who finished his career with 321. Street is 4-for-4 in save chances this year.
NOT VERY OFFENSIVE
The White Sox have scored three runs or fewer in eight of their last nine games. They are 4-6 when scoring three runs or fewer this season.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Ventura used a manager's challenge in the top of the ninth inning when Calhoun was ruled safe at second on a ground-ball double down the third-base line. Video replay confirmed the call, with Calhoun eventually scoring an important insurance run on Perez's squeeze bunt.
WHAT'S NEXT Angels:Nick Tropeano faces Mariners ace Felix Hernandez when the Angels open up a six-game homestand at 7:05 p.m. PT on Friday. It will mark the first game between the Mariners and Angels since former general manager Jerry Dipoto left for Seattle and inserted Scott Servais, formerly the assistant GM in Anaheim, as his manager.
White Sox:Jose Quintana had a four-game winning streak come to an end on April 17 at Tampa Bay after allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in six innings. He takes the mound against Texas at 7:10 p.m. CT on Friday for his first home start of the season. He registered a 2-5 record with a 3.56 ERA during the 2015 season at U.S. Cellular Field.
Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Alden Gonzalez has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2012. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.