ANAHEIM -- Shortly before first pitch, Michael Trout took the field for a pregame ceremony in which he was officially recognized as the Angels' team MVP, an honor bestowed upon him by his teammates. He later backed up that credential, blasting a two-run home run as part of the Angels'
ANAHEIM -- Shortly before first pitch, Michael Trout took the field for a pregame ceremony in which he was officially recognized as the Angels' team MVP, an honor bestowed upon him by his teammates. He later backed up that credential, blasting a two-run home run as part of the Angels' 8-5 win over the A's in Friday night's series opener at Angel Stadium.
Trout crushed a first-pitch fastball from Oakland right-hander Mike Fiers out to right-center field to collect his 39th home run of the season and stake the Angels a 5-0 lead in the third inning. The 27-year-old center fielder is now only two shy of matching the career high of 41 that he set in 2015 with two games left to go this season.
"Mike, he's just the head of the class," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's a tremendous leader, and it's a very justified award for him to get. He deserves it. He's earned it. It just shows the respect players have for him."
Trout's blast proved to be just one of several highlights for the Angels as they entered the final weekend of the 2018 season. Taylor Ward added his second home run in as many games, and Shohei Ohtani continued his push for the American League Rookie of the Year Award, chipping in with three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base to help extend the Angels' (79-81) winning streak to four games.
"For my mind, he's hands down Rookie of the Year," Scioscia said. "I don't know if anyone's come into this league in a long time and done as much as he's done. Even though his pitching season was cut short, when he was out there, he was dominant. I think at the plate, you see the talent. He's having a terrific season."
Jaime Barria did not allow a hit over 4 2/3 innings in the final start of his rookie campaign, but he was pulled after issuing a career-high six walks and throwing 81 pitches. After making his MLB debut on April 11, the 22-year-old right-hander compiled a team-high 10 wins and logged a 3.41 ERA over 129 1/3 innings for the Angels.
Of the nine starters who were originally listed on the club's rotation depth chart at the beginning of the year, Barria was the only one to avoid landing on the disabled list.
"It was a great year," Barria said in Spanish. "It was a learning year. I'm really happy because of that."
Fiers, who replaced "opener" Lou Trivino in the second inning, did not look sharp out of the bullpen for the A's, yielding a leadoff single to Ohtani and hitting Justin Upton to put runners on first and second with no outs. Ohtani and Upton then executed a double steal to set up Francisco Arcia's RBI groundout to the right side of the infield.
Ward followed by launching a first-pitch slider from Fiers out to left field for his fifth home run of the season, extending the Angels' lead to 3-0. They added another pair of runs on Trout's homer in the third.
Barria navigated through the first four innings without incident, but he began experiencing control issues toward the end of his outing. He walked Ramon Laureano to begin the fifth, though he erased him from the basepaths with a strike-'em-out, throw-'em-out double play. Barria still couldn't escape the inning, as he issued back-to-back walks to Jonathan Lucroy and Nick Martini before being replaced by Taylor Cole.
Cole struck out Matt Chapman to escape the jam, though he gave up a leadoff single to Jed Lowrie in the sixth to end the Angels' bid for a combined no-hitter. Cole went on to strike out five over 2 1/3 scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 2.75 over 36 innings this season.
Ohtani delivered a sacrifice fly in the fifth and an RBI infield single in the seventh to help push the Angels' lead to 8-0, but the A's -- aided by a pair of errors from Jabari Blash and Ward -- came back to score five runs in the eighth to narrow the deficit to three.
Hansel Robles was summoned to pitch the ninth and held off the A's by striking out the side to seal the Angels' win. He whiffed Matt Chapman on a 100.2-mph fastball, his hardest-thrown pitch since joining the Angels in June.
Robles, who recently changed his warm-up music to the Undertaker's theme song, credited the uptick in velocity to the rush of adrenaline that comes from pitching the ninth.
"All my life, I've wanted to be a closer," Robles said in Spanish.
Ohtani is the third Angels rookie with 20 home runs and 10 stolen bases, joining Devon White (1987) and Trout (2012).
HE SAID IT
"In his first crack at the Major Leagues, Jaime did terrific. Tonight was just uncharacteristic. He totally lost his release point. That's not the way Jaime can pitch." -- Scioscia, on Barria
Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (8-9, 3.91 ERA) will make his final start of the season on Saturday as the Angels continue their three-game series against the A's at 6:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Right-hander Trevor Cahill (6-4, 3.91 ERA) will start for Oakland. Skaggs gave up four runs over 2 1/3 innings in his last start on Sunday against the Astros. He is 2-1 with a 3.20 ERA in four starts against the A's this year.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.