CarGo hits first spring homer; Nicasio drives in run, but allows three long balls
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Rockies' Drew Stubbs hit his second double of the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lift the Rockies into a 4-4 tie against the Angels on Saturday at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in front of a Rockies Spring Training-record crowd of 12,667.
The Rockies had two on and one out in the 10th, but the Angels brought in an extra infielder. The strategy worked when Angels reliever Michael Cisco forced Jason Pridie to ground into a double play.
The Angels knocked three homers in 4 1/3 innings off Rockies starter Juan Nicasio. The Angels took a 4-3 lead in the top of the fifth with Mike Trout's second of the spring, which sailed high above the center-field wall and into the cactus plants overlooking the field.
"The biggest thing is making adjustments," Trout said. "My first two at-bats, I was trying to pull the ball when they were pitching me in. I told myself, 'It's spring; you get jammed, you get jammed.' So I just tried to stay up the middle and got a pitch to hit."
But Stubbs, who went 2-for-4 with a walk to improve his Cactus League batting average to .333, tied it with the RBI double off the right-field wall against Angels reliever Yoslan Herrera. Rockies reliever Yohan Flande faced two on and no out in the 10th but escaped on two grounders, one that induced an inning-ending double play.
It was the first time Trout played away from the Angels' home, Tempe Diablo Stadium, this spring. The Angels played all of their regulars except for outfielder Josh Hamilton, who is out with a strained left calf. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, nursing a bruised left calf, missed his third day of action.
Rockies star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez also launched a jaw-dropping homer, his first of the spring, to the top of the grassy hillside behind the wall in right for two first-inning runs against Angels projected Opening Day starter Jered Weaver. The Rockies managed just one other run in five innings against Weaver -- on Nicasio's RBI single in the fourth.
"I threw a lot of offspeed pitches trying to get a feel for that today," Weaver said after giving up nine hits, walking two and striking out two in five-plus innings. "One bad pitch to Gonzalez. During the season, I probably wouldn't throw that. I tried to throw a slider down and in. Obviously that's right in his zone, but I'm trying to get a feel on that pitch to lefties now. Other than that, I felt pretty good out there."
Nicasio gave up six hits, but half were homers -- by Howie Kendrick in the second, Matt Long to lead off the fifth, and Trout three batters after Long went deep. Nicasio struck out four and walked one.
"I thought he did a great job, and the home runs were windblown," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "I thought he was commanding his fastball and had some good splits. Trout hit his ball good, but with no wind I don't think that ball gets out. The flags were stiff, blowing straight out, and that ball was really hit. It snuck over that high wall."
Trout's spring average is .433, and Kendrick finished the day at .423.
For the Rockies, Corey Dickerson, making a bid for starts and playing time in center field, went 2-for-4 to leave his batting average at .371. Dickerson, who had played nine innings in center as a reserve this spring but needs to show he can play there to be considered for regular playing time, was smooth for five innings in center, then moved to left.
It was a strong day for key relievers on both sides. Angels setup man Joe Smith and closer Ernesto Frieri each had a clean inning, with Smith striking out two and Frieri one. Rockies versatile righty reliever Adam Ottavino threw two spotless innings with one strikeout.
The contest also featured a replay challenge. Rockies manager Walt Weiss challenged whether Dickerson was in fact out on a third-inning steal attempt of second base. After about two minutes, umpires confirmed their call. Weiss is 0-for-2 on challenges this spring.
Up next: With the competition for an open rotation spot apparently going to the end of camp, the Rockies are starting right-handed candidate Jordan Lyles, who has a 1.13 spring ERA, against the Dodgers at Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday at 2:05 p.m. PT, live on MLB.TV. Opening Day starter Jorge De La Rosa will pitch in a Minor League game at the Rockies' complex.