ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Angels lost a game to the Kansas City Royals and a former pitcher in their minor league system.
It could have been much worse.
Slugging first baseman Albert Pujols and outfielder Torii Hunter both got banged up during the Angels’ 4-1 loss on Tuesday night, but managed to stay in the game.
For manager Mike Scioscia, that is really all that matters.
Pujols swung at an inside pitch in the third inning and was struck on the right elbow. He was examined by trainers before striking out on the next pitch.
The fact that the three-time NL MVP started as the designated hitter for the eighth time this season made it easier for Scioscia to keep him in the game while the training staff worked on him before his next at-bat.
“He was going to have trouble throwing with where his elbow was, but don’t assume he’d come out of the game,” Scioscia said. “He’s a tough guy. He plays nicked up — and plays very well nicked up.
“One thing is, if this is affecting his swing, that’s more disturbing than for him not to be able to play first base. We’ll evaluate him tomorrow and hopefully he comes out of it OK. He’s got some ice on it and we’ll see if he’s at least able to swing the bat for us.”
Hunter tried to make a backhanded diving catch on a sinking liner by Eric Hosmer in the sixth, and the ball bounced past him for a triple. Hunter bruised his left ribs on the play and spent several anxious moments on his knees while Scioscia and a couple of trainers ran out to check on him before leaving him in the game.
“He hit a line drive, and when I’m running toward the gap, the ball’s always in the lights,” Hunter said. “It stayed in the lights the whole time and I saw it late, so I had to dive quick to get to it.
“But I dove funny. I’ve got a hard belt, and when I fell, it rolled all up in me. I had to fight them to stay in the game. I was bobbing and weaving, and they finally let me stay in and let me get my at-bat.”
Hunter led off the bottom of the inning, fouled a pitch hard off his left shin and crumpled to the ground. By the time he got back to his feet, longtime Angels trainer Rick Smith had arrived and the frustrated Hunter shooed him away. He drilled the next pitch just foul down the left field line and lined out to first one pitch later before Pujols struck out again.
“I didn’t ask to come out. I’m tough. I’m one tough cookie,” Hunter said. “And if Scioscia lets me get in there tomorrow, I’ll be in there. I’m not going to ever go in his office and say `Give me a day off.’ I mean, this is baseball. If you don’t get banged up, go ice skating or something.”
Garrett Richards (3-2) gave up four runs, five hits and three walks in five innings. The 24-year-old right-hander, trying to secure the fifth spot in the Angels’ rotation, got the nod this time around after Jerome Williams went 0-5 with a 7.53 ERA in his previous five starts and was relegated to the bullpen.
Williams took over for Richards and allowed four hits over four scoreless innings in his second relief appearance this season.
Will Smith (2-3) pitched two-hit ball over seven innings in the longest of his five major league starts, and Lorenzo Cain hit a two-run homer in the first for Kansas City.
Smith allowed a run, struck out four and walked four against the club that drafted him in 2007 and traded him to the Royals along with reliever Sean O’Sullivan for third baseman Alberto Callaspo in July 2010.
“At first, I didn’t know how to take it because I was so young,” Smith said. “But people kept telling me it was a good thing for me. I’m very happy in Kansas City. We’ve got a great young core here, so I’m excited. It always feels good to win, going against a buddy of yours like Garrett.”
The only hits against the 23-year-old left-hander came in the first inning — a line-drive single by Hunter and an RBI single by Mark Trumbo that followed a walk to Pujols.
“We saw him in early camp one year and he had a lot of poise for a young guy,” Scioscia said. “He’s got a good arm, he’s harnessed it and he’s pitched his way into the big leagues. Everybody in our player development department felt that Will was a major league prospect, and he’s showing that.
“But to get a player like Callaspo, you have to give something up. Kansas City was looking for some young arms, and they got a couple from us.”
Jonathan Broxton allowed two singles during a scoreless ninth for his 23rd save in 27 chances.
NOTES: Smith and Richards both made their major league debut at Yankee Stadium, and both were roughed up. Smith lasted just 3 1-3 innings, giving up five runs, six hits and three homers in an 8-3 loss on May 23. Richards allowed six runs, six hits and two homers over five innings in a 9-3 defeat on Aug. 10, 2011. … Angels LF Mike Trout was 0 for 3 with a walk as his franchise-record streak of consecutive games with a run scored ended at 15, leaving him tied with Roy Hartsfield of the 1950 Boston Red Sox for the major league-record among rookies. … Jean Segura made his major league debut at SS for the Angels and struck out his first two times up before reaching on an error. He was promoted from Triple-A Salt Lake for infield depth after Erick Aybar fouled a ball off his right big toe in Saturday’s loss against Texas.