|Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols gets set to bat during the first inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals, Friday, April 6, 2012, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)|
Angels dominated by Hochevar in 6-3 loss to Royals
ANAHEIM, Calif.—Adding Albert Pujols to their lineup so far has not helped the Angels overcome the early inning offensive woes that plagued them last season
Luke Hochevar took a shutout into the seventh inning and Kansas City got solo homers from Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas against Dan Haren in a 6-3 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.
Friday night, the Angels won their opener 5-0, scoring five runs in the eighth after getting blanked for six innings by Bruce Chen.
"We're still in spring training mode and pitchers are way ahead of us, but I think we'll catch up soon," right fielder Torii Hunter said. "You can't panic right now with 160 games to go. Today was one of those days. Hochevar kept us off-balance and we couldn't score any runs off him. He changed speeds, had his cutter working, and that's something we couldn't make adjustments on."
Pujols got his first hit with Los Angeles, a double in the fourth. He lined a 2-2 pitch over the head of left fielder Alex Gordon with one out in the fourth and tried to score on a single to left by Kendrys Morales. But Gordon, who won a Gold Glove last season, charged the ball and made a one-hop throw to the plate to get Pujols, whose hook slide appeared to have beaten Humberto Quintero's tag.
Haren (0-1) gave up five runs and 11 hits over 5 1-3 innings and struck out five. Morales was 4 for 4 with a double in his second game with the Angels after being sidelined by a severe ankle injury in 2010, when he jumped on home plate after a walkoff grand slam.
Jeff Francoeur, playing in his 1,000th regular-season game, hit a two-run single with the bases loaded in the first. It was the fourth straight hit allowed by Haren, who minimized the damage by striking out Yuniesky Betancourt and Moustakas. Quintero led off the Royals' second with the first of his two doubles and scored on Lorenzo Cain's sacrifice fly.
"I didn't make too many quality pitches, and that's a recipe for disaster," Haren said. "I threw too many pitches up in the zone and wasn't really controlling the count too well. Obviously they got off to a quick start, getting four singles in a row, and I just never really got into a rhythm. I wasn't able to get a 1-2-3 inning and never really caught my breath. But you've got to hand it to them. They've got a good ballclub and they did the most with the pitches I left out over the plate."
Hochevar (1-0), who came in 0-3 with a with an 8.02 ERA in his four previous starts against the Angels, allowed two runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings in his season debut. He gave up a pair of one-out singles in the seventh and was relieved by Tim Collins with a 5-0 lead. Bobby Abreu lined the left-hander's first pitch into the right field corner for an RBI double and Hunter scored on a groundout by Vernon Wells, who hit into a game-ending double play against Jonathan Broxton.
"That's a good ballclub, no doubt about it, and it's not an easy lineup to navigate through," said Hochevar, the first overall pick in the 2006 draft by the Royals and their opening-day starter last year.
"They're stacked from one to nine, so I knew that I had to execute a lot of quality pitches. That was my focus, especially with Haren on the mound," he added. "Early on, I think the results were better than my execution, and then I kind of hit a groove in the fourth and started making a lot of quality pitches in key situations."
Broxton, who became the Royals' closer after two-time All-Star Joakim Soria had season-ending Tommy John surgery April 3, came in with a 6-2 lead and closed it out after giving up Morales' leadoff double, a bunt single by Hunter and a sacrifice fly by Abreu.
Broxton hasn't had a save since May 2, 2011, with the Dodgers -- he was shut down two days later because of bone spurs in his elbow and missed the rest of the season. The Royals signed him as a free agent in November.
"It feels pretty good to get out there again. My elbow felt fine," said the two-time All-Star. "It was very frustrating last year, especially because I couldn't go out there and help the team win."
NOTES: Pujols, who was 0 for 3 with a walk in his Angels debut, has never gone hitless in his first two games of the season. ... Francoeur's first big league game was on July 7, 2005, with Atlanta. ... It was the first time that Moustakas and Hosmer homered in the same game since making their big league debuts five weeks apart last season. ... Pujols grounded into a double play his first time up, something he did a career-high 29 times last season -- including three on opening day. ... Francoeur's first big league game was on July 7, 2005 with Atlanta, when he went 1 for 4 with a three-run homer off Glendon Rusch in the eighth inning of a 9-4 win at Chicago. ... Quintero, the Royals' catcher, picked off Wilson to end the Angels' third.