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Kansas City Royals beat Angels, 2-1, with walk-off home run

The Royals' Kila Ka'aihue homers off Michael Kohn to even the season-opening series. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia says it's too early to come to any conclusions.

April 01, 2011|By Kevin Baxter
  • Angels starter Dan Haren went seven innings against Kansas City on Friday evening, giving up six hits and one run while striking out six and walking none.
Angels starter Dan Haren went seven innings against Kansas City on Friday… (Peter G. Aiken / US Presswire )

Reporting from Kansas City, Mo.

The season is only two days old, Angels Manager Mike Scioscia cautioned. Far too early to draw any conclusions.

"You're talking about a small sample," he said Friday, moments after Kila Ka'aihue's ninth-inning home run gave the Kansas City Royals a 2-1 win over the Angels. "You're talking two games."

Maybe. But even a small sample can sometimes reveal troubling trends. And in the Angels' case, they're trends that suggest the troubles that plagued the team last summer are following them into this one.

For instance:

• Last season the Angels were 27th in the majors in hitting with runners in scoring position. Two games into this one, they're 3 for 18 (.167) in the same situation.

Last season the bullpen led the American League in walks. Two games into this one, Angels relievers have walked five — and allowed three home runs — in 32/3 innings.

Last season the Angels averaged 4.2 runs a game, the fewest in 16 seasons. Two games into this season, they've scored just five times.

Oh, and the Angels finished last season with Kendrys Morales on the disabled list with a broken ankle. He's still there as they start this one.

"It's a two-game sample size," Scioscia answered. "Let those guys get their feet on the ground, and we'll evaluate this as we move on. As the year moves on, we're going to get better."

They'd better. Because the Angels' only run Friday came on Howie Kendrick's one-out first-inning home run, after which Royals starter Jeff Francis held them to just four singles.

Twice the Angels got Erick Aybar as far as third but couldn't get him in, and another time Aybar failed to get a sacrifice bunt down, then wound up killing a potential eighth-inning rally by hitting into a double play.

For Angels starter Dan Haren, it was deja-vu. In 14 starts with the Angels last season, his teammates scored only 34 runs. Subtract the rare show of support he got in an August win over Tampa Bay and the Angels averaged just 1.69 runs while Haren was on the mound.

"I don't think about how many runs I'm going to get," he said. "I just think about giving up the least amount that I can. It's always been like that."

Maybe. But after bouncing a fourth-inning pitch that allowed the Royals' Billy Butler to take third, from where he scored Kansas City's first run on a ground out, Haren was kicking himself.

"I pretty much bounced it on home plate," he said with a grimace. "Looking back, I wish I would have tried something" else.

The same undoubtedly goes for Michael Kohn. Two of the three previous times an Angels reliever has started off an inning this season, the reliever has walked the leadoff hitter. Determined not to let that happen again, Kohn went after Ka'aihue. But Kohn made his second pitch too good, and Ka'aihue drove it just over the wall in right-center.

Afterward, Kohn sat on a chair in his underwear, staring into his locker along the near wall of the Angels' silent clubhouse. It was just the sixth home run Kohn has allowed in four professional seasons — and the first walk-off homer he can remember giving up. By Saturday, however, he promised it would be forgotten.

"Tomorrow's another day. And the sun will rise," he pledged.

Catcher Jeff Mathis echoed that — and his manager's sentiments as well.

"We've played two baseball games so far," he said. "And everybody's amped, everybody's excited. So don't look into that too much."

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