KANSAS CITY -- The first-pitch temperature at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday was 42 degrees, a 27-degree drop from the previous night.
Snow began to fall as the evening progressed, but even the inclement weather wasn't enough to cool the Angels, who ran their winning streak to seven games with a 5-3 win over the Royals and improved to 13-3, the best start in the franchise's 58-year history. They'll look to extend their streak, once again in frigid conditions on Sunday, with two-way star Shohei Ohtani on the mound for his third career start.
"I love snow, but it was tough," Michael Trout, a noted weather enthusiast, said. "It was cold. It was a battle, but it was a big win for us."
Three hours before the game, several Angels braced for the chilly conditions by requesting thermal leggings and long-sleeved undershirts from equipment manager Keith Tarter. By the time they took the field, red and black ski masks were also en vogue. Only designated hitter Jose Pujols braved the elements without wearing any visible layers beneath his red Angels jersey.
Despite the conditions, Trout managed to defy raging wind and drizzly rain in the fifth inning, launching a two-run shot off Royals right-hander Jakob Junis that extended the Angels' lead to 5-0. Trout's sixth home run of the season -- which tied him with the Nationals' Bryce Harper for the most in the Majors -- rocketed off his bat at 109 mph and traveled an estimated 439 feet, according to Statcast™.
"That thing was killed," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He hit it good."
Trout's blast was one of three homers the Angels hit off Junis, who had not allowed a run in his first two regular-season starts this year. Junis' scoreless streak ended at 16 innings after Luis Valbuena put the Angels on the board with a leadoff homer to right field in the third. Junis also hung a curveball to Upton, who crushed it to left field to extend the Angels' lead to 2-0 in the fourth.
Garrett Richards earned his second win of the year, after giving up one run on one hit over five-plus innings.
"Felt good tonight," Richards said. "Delivery is getting a little bit better. Got some things I've got to work on, but I felt fine."
Richards looked dominant early on, retiring the first 12 batters he faced -- five via strikeout -- before issuing a leadoff walk to Lucas Duda in the fifth. Richards then fell into trouble, uncorking three wild pitches and yielding a one-out hit that allowed Duda to score. The Royals continued to threaten after Ryan Goins walked to put runners on the corners with one out, but Richards worked out of the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play from Alcides Escobar.
Richards returned to the mound for the sixth, but he was removed after walking Andrew Butera to lead off the inning.
"Garrett started off really looking like he had his mechanics together, throwing the ball well, good delivery," Scioscia said. "Then, all of a sudden, he just came out of it. Had a lot of trouble in that fifth inning. He's working on some things, but he looked really good for four innings."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bullpen does the trick: After Butera delivered an RBI single off Jim Johnson to trim the Angels' lead to 5-2 in the seventh, Scioscia decided to bring in Richard Parker to help quash the Royals' rally. Parker walked the first batter he faced, Jonathan Jay, to load the bases with two outs, but then coaxed a harmless fly ball to left field from Whit Merrifield to end the inning.
The Angels have now won nine consecutive road games, their longest streak since winning 10 straight games away from home from May 22-June 11, 2012. Their 9-1 record marks their best 10-game road start in club history.
HE SAID IT
"I'm used to it. It brings me back to my high school days. We would have been snowed out, though. We wouldn't have played. But we came out with a W." -- Trout, on playing in the snow
Two-way phenom Ohtani (2-0, 2.08 ERA) will make his third start on the mound in Sunday's series finale at 11:15 a.m. PT at Kauffman Stadium. Ohtani, who carried a perfect game into the seventh inning of his most recent outing against the A's last Sunday, will be making his first career appearance against the Royals. He'll be opposed by Kansas City left-hander Eric Skoglund.