BY JIMMY DeROGATIS
The Oakland Athletics fell short today against the Los Angeles Angels courtesy of future Hall of Famers Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, losing 4-1.
Trout and Pujols powered the offense for LA by hitting back to back home runs in the bottom of the third. Trout’s two run homer was a no-doubter to left center while Pujols shot didn’t quite make it over the wall but was actually interfered with by a fan who reached over the fence and into the field of play. As a result of the interference it was called a home run on the field. Tyler Ward then came to bat and ripped a one-hopper into the right center field gap, making it four straight extra base hits against Estrada.
The Angels added a fourth run in the eighth when third baseman Jose Rojas blasted a home run to right center. The Athletics lone run came in the seventh inning when Franklin Barrera doubled to center allowing Jorge Mateo, who got on with a single to right, to score.
Estrada made his A’s debut as the starting pitcher going three innings,
allowing six hits while giving up three earned runs, with three strikeouts.
Estrada who is 35 and entering his 12th big league season got burned last season by the long ball, allowing 29 home runs in 143 innings with Toronto.
Former Oakland pitcher and bullpen coach for both the A’s and the Class A Stockton Ports, Rick Rodriguez (now with the Nashville Sounds) was in the bullpen watching Estrada warm-up. “His fastball touched 93 with some movement,” he said, “His off-speed pitches look good too. He needs to keep the ball down and away in the bottom half of the strike zone.”
“He’s an elite pitcher in my book,” said Pujols. “Even though he doesn’t throw that hard it’s always a chess match against him,” he said. “Estrada is one of the most competitive pitchers I have ever faced, behind the Braves big three in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddox.”
“He knows how to pitch,” said Trout. “He can really locate the ball well, and paint the corners. If you can locate in the big leagues, you’ll go a long way.”
Angels infielder Zach Cozart was scratched from today’s game with tightness in his left leg.
“I felt great swinging the bat this morning but when we went to do some base running drills it (left calf) just locked up on me,” he said. “It just felt like a really bad Charlie Horse.”