OAKLAND -- Mike Trout crushed his first home run of the season against Sonny Gray, a two-run shot that traveled roughly 430 feet, and Nick Tropeano kept the A's scoreless in his season debut, leading the Angels to a 4-1 victory at the Coliseum on Monday night.
Tropeano, filling the rotation spot of an injured Andrew Heaney, pitched five-plus innings, scattering six hits, walking two and striking out six. The 25-year-old right-hander has allowed only one run in 17 2/3 innings in his career against the A's.
"He's a guy we're going to have to count on," Angels first baseman Albert Pujols said of Tropeano. "He came out here, no pressure, kept the ball down, and I thought his changeup was pretty amazing."
The Angels, who sported the Majors' second-lowest OPS in the season's first week, finally broke through off Gray in the sixth, getting a one-out double from Yunel Escobar and an RBI single from Daniel Nava. The next batter, Trout, made it a three-run game with a prodigious blast to left-center field.
"We were slow offensively in our first few games at home," Trout said, "but it's coming along. You just take it one at-bat at a time."
The A's, in first place in the American League West entering this series, stranded a runner on third with one out in the fifth and failed to capitalize on another opportunity in the sixth. Stephen Vogt led off with a walk against Tropeano, prompting Fernando Salas to enter. Salas then gave up a single to Jed Lowrie, but got Khris Davis to ground into a 5-4-3 double play and Yonder Alonso to line out.
The Angels' win snapped the A's three-game winning streak.
Said A's manager Bob Melvin: "It came down to they got the big hits and the opportunities and we didn't [capitalize]."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Escaping trouble:Coco Crisp hit a one-out triple off the glove of right fielder Kole Calhoun, who nearly made a sensational catch before crashing into the fence, putting the A's 90 feet away from their first run in the fifth. But Tropeano got Chris Coghlan to hit a shallow popout, then intentionally walked the left-handed-hitting Josh Reddick and got the right-handed-hitting Danny Valencia to ground out. Cliff Pennington made a slick charging play and Albert Pujols scooped his short-hop throw to end the inning. More >
"I felt good," Tropeano said. "I think Carlos and I had a pretty good game plan going in, and I thought I executed pretty well."
Cruise controlled: Gray only allowed two hits through the first 5 1/3 innings of shutout ball. Then a crushing sequence: Double. RBI single. Two-run monster homer by Trout on the first pitch. More >
Big fish: Trout hit his first home run of the season, and it was prodigious. The Angels' center fielder turned on a first-pitch fastball from Gray and crushed a line drive that bounced off the side of the bleachers that sit well above the "388" sign in left-center field for a two-run homer. It was only the second home run the Angels had hit all season. Trout is the only player in the game with three home runs against Gray. Even more encouraging for Trout: It came on the first pitch. More >
"Timing was right," Trout said of jumping on the first pitch. "When I get in trouble is when I don't get that foot down. Last couple games, it's been coming back; my timing's been good. I obviously feel better at the plate."
Almost, but not quite: Oakland had chances. For example, in the bottom of the sixth. Behind 3-0, the A's had the tying run at the plate with no outs and runners on first and second. But Davis grounded into a double play, and Alonso flew out to left field to strand Vogt at third. Overall, Oakland went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position until Marcus Semien's two-out RBI single in the ninth.
"We did get guys into scoring position off him, but we gotta be better than that," Vogt said of Tropeano.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Six games into the season, the Angels' leader in stolen bases is none other than Pujols, who picked up his first --and the team's first -- steal by surprising Liam Hendriks and not even drawing a throw from Vogt. Pujols has 104 career stolen bases, which ranks 14th among the 27 players who have hit 500 homers. He later scored his 1,600th career run on an RBI single by Andrelton Simmons, joining Hank Aaron, Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro as the only players with 550 homers, 550 doubles and 1,600 runs.
"That's the advantage that you need to take," Pujols said. "I take those. I put my cape on."
Angels:Hector Santiago takes the ball for the second of this three-game series on Tuesday, with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. PT. Santiago limited the Rangers to two runs through the first six innings in his last start. He has a 3.14 ERA in 51 2/3 career innings vs. the A's.
A's: Right-hander Kendall Graveman takes the mound for his second start of the year. He took the loss in his season debut after allowing two runs on three hits, including a home run, in 5 1/3 innings with one walk and four strikeouts against the White Sox.
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