Angels win despite Pujols' quiet debut

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 07, 2012
Jered Weaver struck out 10 in eight dominant innings of four-hit ball, Peter Bourjos' bases-loaded infield single broke open a scoreless game in the eighth inning, and the Los Angeles Angels won Albert Pujols' hitless debut, 5-0 over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night. Erick Aybar put a bases-loaded triple down the right field line moments after two Kansas City infielders couldn't handle Bourjos' chopper, giving a comfortable lead to the Angels after a tense start to Pujols' tenure. Los Angeles began a season of enormous expectations with its eighth opening-day win in the last nine years, and even did it with no help from Pujols. The feared slugger went 0 for 3 with an eighth-inning intentional walk after getting several raucous pregame ovations from a crowd that still can't quite believe he's wearing a halo cap. Pujols lined into a first-inning double play before popping out in the third and striking out on three pitches in the seventh. After winning three NL MVP awards and two World Series titles during 11 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, Pujols signed a 10-year, $240 million deal to continue his career on the West Coast, hopefully adding life to the Angels' often-punchless lineup. Yet the Angels' other new additions led their eighth-inning rally, which began with a single by Kendrys Morales in his first game since breaking his ankle nearly two years ago. Morales singled to right against All-Star reliever Aaron Crow (0-1), and pinch-runner Alexi Amarista advanced to third on sharp singles by Mark Trumbo and new catcher Chris Iannetta. After Bourjos' single, Aybar's shot down the line cleared the bases, and Torii Hunter added a run-scoring single moments later. In his fourth opening-day start for the Angels, Weaver (1-0) was in the same intimidating form that made him the runner-up for last year's AL Cy Young award. The right-hander retired 13 straight after allowing back-to-back singles in the third inning, finished with double-digit strikeouts for the 12th time in his career, and didn't walk a batter. Bruce Chen, the oldest player on the majors' youngest team, matched each of Weaver's zeros during six innings of three-hit ball in the first opening day start of his 14-year, 10-team career. Pujols was the center of attention at Angel Stadium from the moment he stepped on the field for batting practice. Dozens of phones and cameras clicked during his pregame sprints, and he got the longest and loudest ovation from the Orange County crowd during pregame introductions, taking off his red cap and saluting his new fans. The crowd also gave a long ovation to Morales, who made his first appearance with the Angels since May 29, 2010, when the Cuban power hitter broke his left ankle jumping on home plate to celebrate a game-ending grand slam. Trumbo, who led the Angels in homers and RBIs as a rookie first baseman last year, had a rocky debut at third base after taking up the position in spring training. He made a throwing error on his first chance in the second inning, pulling Pujols off the bag after stopping a grounder, and badly misjudged a foul pop in the seventh, earning another error. NOTES: Weaver is the third Angels pitcher to get at least 10 strikeouts on opening day, joining Nolan Ryan (12 apiece in 1973 and 1975) and Andy Messersmith (11 in 1970). ... The clubs also met on opening day last season, with the Angels winning 4-2 in Kansas City. The Royals hadn't opened a season in Anaheim since 1975. ... Bobby Abreu began the season on the Angels' bench after going 7 for 55 in spring training amid reported complaints about his potential playing time.
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