Angels' offense pounds Rays in opener
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Angels scrapped together 15 hits, including a historic Albert Pujols home run, and received a quality start from Matt Shoemaker en route to an 8-2 victory over the Rays on Tuesday inside Tropicana Field.
Los Angeles got off to a quick start, scoring two in the first inning and added runs in the third, fifth -- an opposite-field solo home run by Pujols that drew him even with Mickey Mantle on the all-time home run list -- and sixth innings before finally closing the door for good with a three-run eighth. The top four hitters in the Angels lineup (Erick Aybar, Mike Trout, Pujols and Kole Calhoun) combined to go 11-for-20 on the night, scoring all eight runs and driving in five.
Joey Butler delivered the only runs of the ballgame for the Rays with a two-run double to left-center in the sixth.
Shoemaker tossed 6 1/3 innings for the Angels to pick up his fourth win of the season, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out six. Nate Karns (3-3) took the loss for the Rays after surrendering five runs -- four earned -- in 5 2/3 innings.
"I think we did a lot of things well. Made the plays in the field. Matty did a great job of bringing all his pitches in, pitched deep into the game and gave us a chance to win," said Angels manager Mike Scioscia of a victory that brought an end to a five-game Halos' losing streak.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Pujols ties Mantle: The veteran Angels first baseman lead off the fifth inning with a home run to right, his 16th of the season, tying Mickey Mantle for 16th place on Major League Baseball's all-time home run list with 536. Phillies Hall-of-Famer Mike Schmidt occupies the 15th slot with 548 career homers. Pujols is now batting .395 (17-for-43) with eight home runs and 13 RBIs in his last 11 games. More >
"It's pretty special," Pujols said. "Obviously, Mickey's a legend with what he did in this game. I think nobody's going to forget that but my goal is to try to help this ballclub to win and I'm glad I was able to do that tonight. I don't concentrate on who's in front of me or who I have passed. My goal is to get good quality at-bats and do whatever I can to help this ballclub to win."
Banking on Butler: On a night when the Rays' offense struggled to get anything going, Butler capitalized on one of the only scoring chances of the night. With runners on the corners after a Rene Rivera double and a Kevin Kiermaier single, Butler delivered a double to left-center to push across both runners and cut the Angels lead to 5-2. Butler has now hit safely in nine of his last 10 games, batting .385 (15-for-39) during that stretch. The Rays' rookie is currently batting .327 on the season, a mark that has been bettered by only two rookies -- Aki Iwamura (.337, 2007) and Rocco Baldelli (.329, 2003) in franchise history at the end of play on June 9 (min. 100 plate appearances).
Road warrior: Shoemaker continues to shine in opposing ballparks. With Tuesday's victory at Tropicana Field, the 28-year-old right-hander now owns an 11-2 career record across 17 appearances (15 starts) away from the Big A. Shoemaker had a streak of seven consecutive winning decisions snapped in his prior road start on May 21 in Toronto.
"Earlier in the season [it was] a little rough, but fixed my focus, more execution and just go from there," said Shoemaker. "It's baseball, and I've got to go out there in the next five days and be ready to go again."
Calhoun cleans up: Calhoun set a career high with four RBIs on the night. The Angels' cleanup hitter gave his team a lead it would never relinquish when he knocked in Aybar with a two-out double in the first inning to make the score 1-0. In the sixth, he drove home Trout with a two-out single, and in the eighth he stroked a two-run single that plated Aybar and Trout to put the game out of reach.
"Just going out there trying to win ballgames, which is huge for this team. If it takes [four] or it takes one, whatever you can do to help the club get a 'W' especially to open up the series," Calhoun said.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The Angels are 40-8 in the last 48 games when Calhoun has scored a run. After doubling home Aybar with two outs in the first inning, the Angels' right fielder scored his team's second run on an error by Rays third baseman Jake Elmore.
Angels: Jered Weaver (4-5, 4.60 ERA) will take the ball when the Angels and Rays resume their three-game series at Tropicana Field on Wednesday at 4:10 p.m. PT. The 32-year-old right-hander struggled mightily in his most recent start, surrendering seven earned runs on nine hits -- including three home runs -- in 5 2/3 innings at Yankee Stadium last Friday. The rocky outing ended Weaver's streak of five consecutive quality starts.
Rays: Erasmo Ramirez (4-2, 5.10 ERA) will look to continue his recent pitching success when he faces the Angels for the sixth time in his career on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Ramirez has won four of his last five outings and, since April 19, he owns an opponent batting slash line of .179/.259/.269. In his five previous appearances against the Angels, the right-hander is 1-2 with a 2.28 ERA.
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