Mike Trout, left, touches home at virtually the same time as he is tagged… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
C.J. Wilsonand Yu Darvish, the key pieces in a rotation chess match between the Angels and Texas Rangers last winter, squared off for the second time this season Saturday night, and though both pitched well, neither figured much in the outcome.
What left a bigger impression on a crowd of 44,227 in Angel Stadium were five errors — three by the Rangers — a bizarre play in which a shortstop failed to throw to first on a routine grounder, and a controversial play at the plate that led to a heated argument and ejection.
When the dust cleared, it was the Angels who remained standing, their 3-2 victory cutting the Rangers' American League West lead to 3 1/2 games.
The Angels scored twice in the seventh to take a 3-1 lead and gave up a run in the eighth on right fielder Torii Hunter's throwing error, but reliever Ernesto Frieri struck out Nelson Cruz with a runner on second to end the eighth.
Frieri's 13 1/3-inning hitless streak to open his Angels career ended with Mike Napoli's leadoff single in the top of the ninth, and the Rangers loaded the bases with two outs, but the right-hander struck out Josh Hamilton for his fourth save, giving the Angels their 10th win in 11 games.
With the score tied, 1-1, Erick Aybar led off the bottom of the seventh for the Angels with a bunt single off Darvish. Bobby Wilson struck out trying to drop a sacrifice bunt, but Aybar stole second.
Mike Trout hit a grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus, but instead of throwing to first, Andrus turned immediately to second-base umpire Ted Barrett to argue that the grounder nicked Aybar on the way to third.
Objection overruled. Trout was credited with an infield single and stole second. Alberto Callaspo lined a run-scoring single to right for a 2-1 Angels lead, and Albert Pujols walked to load the bases.
Kendrys Morales greeted reliever Koji Uehara with a sinking liner to right fielder Nelson Cruz, who made the catch and fired a strong throw home in an attempt to nail the speedy Trout, who tagged up.
The throw beat the runner, but Torrealba tagged Trout on the left hip as Trout's foot hit the plate. Umpire Tim McClelland ruled Trout safe, Torrealba exploded in a fit of anger and was immediately ejected. Replays were inconclusive.
The Angels led, 3-1.
Wilson allowed five hits in six scoreless innings, and Darvish blanked the Angels on two hits through five innings, but the Angels broke through with an unearned run in the sixth.
Pujols led off with a popup to shallow right field, a ball that would normally be a routine play for a second baseman.
But with Ian Kinsler playing behind the second-base bag in an exaggerated shift, it was up to first baseman Napoli, a catcher by trade, to make the play.
Napoli, who missed Callaspo's routine first-inning liner — the ball caromed off his glove to Kinsler, who had time to throw to first for the out — did a pirouette while backing up, and the ball dropped on the outfield grass for a two-base error.
Morales struck out on a Darvish breaking ball, but Pujols, seeing that Darvish was paying little attention to him, got a great jump and stole third on the final pitch to Morales.
Mark Trumbo followed with a grounder to usually sure-handed third baseman Adrian Beltre, Pujols going on contact.
Beltre, appearing to rush the play, bobbled the glove-to-hand exchange for an error, as Pujols scored the game's first run.
The 1-0 lead was short-lived.
1/3 innings of the Rangers' 10-3 victory. Wilson did not, and he took the loss, but he returned the next day to allow only two runs and five hits in 52/3 innings of a 4-2 Angels victory.
League home run derby. "I don't think it changes my swing drastically. I always try to put myself in a position to drive the ball, so I don't think I would have to make any huge mechanical adjustment to do it."