ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Rookies are supposed to be overmatched against pitchers like Felix Hernandez. Mike Trout is no ordinary rookie.
Trout tied a career high with five RBIs, including a three-run homer and a rare two-run sacrifice fly, and pinch-runner Peter Bourjos scored on a wild pitch in the ninth inning to give the Los Angeles Angels a 6-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
“You’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the game — one of the top-five strikeout leaders — and Trout stood up to him. That’s the type of player he is,” Angels outfielder Torii Hunter said. “It shows he has the plate discipline. It doesn’t matter who’s on the mound. He’s not afraid. He’s ready to go. And that’s what I love about him. He’s a bulldog.”
Kendrys Morales led off the ninth against Josh Kinney (0-2) with his second double of the game and was replaced by Bourjos. Alberto Callaspo was intentionally walked, and both runners advanced on Howie Kendrick’s sacrifice. Another intentional pass to Erick Aybar brought up pinch-hitter Maicer Izturis, who watched Kinney’s 1-2 pitch skip past catcher John Jaso.
Angels closer Ernesto Frieri (1-0) earned his first American League win, striking out the side in the ninth on 13 pitches.
Ervin Santana ended up with a fortunate no-decision after falling behind 5-0 in the third on a two-run homer by Dustin Ackley and a three-run shot by Jaso on a 3-0 pitch. The right-hander was charged with four earned runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings. He struck out six.
“He just had a rough inning. That’s all,” Hunter said. “Guys just went over and tapped him on the shoulder to show him that we were going to battle through it. We got three runs and got some new life, then he settled down and got the breaking ball down a little bit and located the fastball better.”
Hernandez allowed five runs — four earned — and five hits in seven innings with three strikeouts. The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner was 6-0 with a 1.41 ERA over his previous 10 starts, lowering his ERA from 3.70 to 2.63 prior to facing the Angels. In two starts against them this season, he has yielded nine earned runs in 13 innings.
The Angels tied it 5-all in the fifth when Trout was credited with two RBIs on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Eric Thames caught the ball in the right-field corner after a long run and collided with the short fence before making a return throw toward second base. Aybar kept running all the way from second after the catch, waved home by third base coach Dino Ebel, and scored behind Kendrick.
“On that play right there, you know that all three runners are going to tag up, and the guy at third base is definitely going to score,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. “The guy at second base is definitely going to get to third base, so what you have to do is control the baseball and make sure the guy at second doesn’t come all the way around. So Eric needed to hit the cutoff man, but what he ended up doing was (throwing over) him.”
Trout, who celebrated his 21st birthday last Tuesday with a home run at Oakland, hit his 21st homer of the season in the third to slice Seattle’s lead to 5-3 after Kendrick led off with a double and Aybar reached on an error by shortstop Brendan Ryan. Aybar was running on the 3-2 pitch to Trout, who leads all rookies with 60 RBIs.
“I’m just comfortable right now,” Trout said. “I got a good pitch to hit, a 3-2 changeup, and it was right in my wheelhouse. I was just trying to hit the ball up the middle and stay short with my swing.”
Trout also had five RBIs on Aug. 30, 2011, at Seattle — a three-run homer, a solo shot and a bases-loaded walk. He is the first player to get two RBIs on a sacrifice fly since teammate Albert Pujols did it with the Cardinals on June 7, 2009, against Colorado.
Hernandez was coming off a two-hitter in a 1-0 win at Yankee Stadium last Saturday. He had allowed only one home run in his previous 12 starts and 82 2-3 innings since giving up back-to-back homers by Gordon Beckham and Adam Dunn of the White Sox on June 1 at Chicago.
“Felix didn’t have his sharpest stuff tonight,” Jaso said. “It was tough for him to throw his changeup righty-on-righty, and that’s what Trout hit out. But I definitely don’t want to take anything away from Trout because he’s proven himself to be a great player. And driving that ball to right field to get that sac fly shows you right there how good he is. He stayed inside of it, knew what to do and hit it hard.”
NOTES: Hernandez and Santana are among four active pitchers with 200 or more big league starts who have made all of them with one team. The others are Detroit’s Justin Verlander and San Francisco’s Matt Cain. … Santana has served up eight homers in his last four outings. His career total is 192, second-most in Angels history behind Chuck Finley’s 254. … Ryan, who came in leading AL shortstops with a .993 fielding percentage, returned to the lineup after missing four games because of a bruised left elbow. … Hernandez is third in the AL with 162 strikeouts, trailing Detroit teammates Max Scherzer (168) and Verlander (166). … Callaspo, who had a pinch-hit grand slam against Hernandez in the Angels’ 5-3 victory on May 26 at Safeco Field, was 0 for 3 against him. … Santana has a 7.29 ERA during the first three innings and a 5.82 mark overall.