OAKLAND -- Friday night saw three key threads come together for the Angels: strong pitching, clutch defense and, of course, a big moment from Michael Trout.It culminated in the club's first victory of the 2018 season, a 2-1 win over the A's that evened the four-game series between the two
OAKLAND -- Friday night saw three key threads come together for the Angels: strong pitching, clutch defense and, of course, a big moment from Michael Trout.
It culminated in the club's first victory of the 2018 season, a 2-1 win over the A's that evened the four-game series between the two American League West rivals at the Coliseum. Trout's first homer of the year, a solo shot off Sean Manaea in the first inning, gave the Angels a lead they would never relinquish, as Tyler Skaggs outdueled his Oakland counterpart by firing 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his season debut.
Trout now has 26 career home runs against the A's, which is tied with the Mariners for his most against any MLB team. He also has six hits with three home runs and four RBIs in 14 career at-bats against Manaea.
"I took some good swings and hit some balls hard," said Trout, who quickly brushed off his first career 0-for-6 showing in Thursday's Opening Day loss. "That's always a positive."
Trout also helped generate an insurance run for the Angels in the ninth, scoring from first after Matt Joyce misplayed a single from Justin Upton that bounced past him in left field.
The extra cushion proved critical for the Angels, who were forced to fend off a late rally from the A's in the bottom of the ninth. Richard Parker took the mound with a 2-0 lead, but he fell into trouble after issuing an eight-pitch leadoff walk to Khris Davis and yielding a single to Matt Olson to put runners on first and second with no outs. Jonathan Lucroy brought the A's within one with a two-out RBI single to center, but Parker locked down the save by inducing a game-ending groundout from Joyce.
"I think I was just a little amped up," Parker said. "Getting behind a little bit and then maybe trying to place some pitches instead of just letting it rip. I just wanted to focus on getting the save, getting the win. It was a good win. I think everyone contributed, so it felt good to get a win tonight."
Skaggs helped set the tone with a dominant performance, allowing just three singles while walking none, striking out five and throwing 98 pitches.
"That's as good as you can pitch," manager Mike Scioscia said. "Tyler was on top of it all night and finished strong. Got to almost 100 pitches and maintained his stuff. That's big. Set the game up well and our bullpen held on."
Ian Kinsler, who made his Angels debut at second base, did not take the field for the bottom of the ninth because of "fatigue," according to Scioscia. Kinsler has been dealing with groin tightness, and Scioscia said before the game that he was unlikely to play Saturday.
"Nothing he's worried about," Scioscia said. "Just felt a little fatigue from not being out there."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Calhoun robs Semien: Skaggs received some help from Kole Calhoun in the sixth inning, as the Gold Glove Award-winning right fielder laid out to make an outstanding catch and take a leadoff hit away from Marcus Semien.
"He kind of dumped it in there," Calhoun said. "It was right in that spot in between Trout and I. I just gave it a shot. Off the bat, I didn't know if I was going to catch it, but as I got closer, I thought maybe it was going to be close, and I came up with it."
Skaggs, of course, appreciated the effort.
"Unbelievable," Skaggs said. "It's a game-changer for me, personally. That could have dunked in as a hit, and then you're out of the stretch. A lot of things could happen. Just a really huge play."
Picked off: Calhoun's catch wasn't the only defensive highlight for the Angels. The A's threatened with two outs in the seventh inning, when Matt Chapman singled and Lucroy, who was tagged in the back by a Blake Wood pitch, joined him on the bases. But Lucroy was caught too far off the first-base bag and was promptly picked off by catcher Martin Maldonado following a pitch to Chad Pinder, spoiling a potential rally in the making.
"Obviously it's a huge boost," Wood said. "He's the best catcher in the game right now. Making plays like that is what makes him so good. He has such great feel for the game. A couple guys on, it's a big out right there in a 1-0 game. To get me out of that and get the team back in the dugout, it was huge for us."
"I feel like every time we play the A's, we've always got nail-biter games. Tonight wasn't going to be any different. For us to get our first win, a lot of guys had to step up in big spots." -- Calhoun on the Angels' rollercoaster win
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Skaggs snapped a four-game losing streak against the A's on Friday. He had been 0-4 with a 6.26 ERA in his five previous starts against Oakland.
Angels:Matthew Shoemaker, who logged a 4.53 ERA over 14 starts in an injury-shortened 2017 campaign, will make his season debut on Saturday afternoon as the Angels continue their four-game series with the A's at the Coliseum. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT.
A's: The A's will send right-hander Daniel Mengden to the mound for the third game of this four-game set, scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PT at the Coliseum. Mengden posted a 3.14 ERA in seven starts over two stints with the big league club last year.
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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.