ST Game 23: Angels 3, Royals 2 …
Most important thing: Jered Weaver was much better against the “A” lineup of a Royals team that expects to score a lot of runs this year. He gave up just two runs on three hits, walked none and struck out five in a 77-pitch, 5 1/3-inning outing. His last start of the spring could come in a Minor League game, which the Angels can make a controlled environment so Weaver can complete seven innings. Weaver will start Opening Day on March 31, but as usual, Mike Scioscia doesn’t like to say so ahead of time.
Second-most important thing: Albert Pujols and Mike Trout both hit balls into the lawn just behind the center-field fence. Pujols took Bruce Chen deep in the first, giving him seven hits in 14 at-bats. Trout smoked a sixth-inning changeup from Chen near the bushes that sit behind the grass. It was Trout’s fourth home run of the spring, and his second bomb to dead center field.
Third-most important thing: Josh Hamilton played in back-to-back games for the first time, and moved to the fifth spot against an opposing lefty (that could happen often this season). He went 0-for-3, popping out to the left side his first time, grounding right into the shift his second time and striking out swinging — against right-hander Wade Davis — his third time.
Fourth-most important thing: Nick Maronde relieved Weaver in the sixth and retired the two left-handed hitters he faced, getting Eric Hosmer to line out to center field, walking the right-handed-hitting Billy Butler and striking out Alex Gordon. Sean Burnett is still rehabbing from August forearm surgery, Brian Moran is nursing left elbow inflammation and Maronde, 24, is the only other lefty reliever remaining in camp. He could win a spot in their bullpen.
Fifth-most important thing: Joe Smith, Kevin Jepsen and Brandon Lyon (the latter of whom still has to win a spot in the bullpen) each threw scoreless frames. Jepsen struck out all three batters he faced, while Smith worked around a hit and a walk and Lyon threw a clean ninth inning to record his second save.
Best defensive play (that I actually saw): Trout laid out to catch a sinking line drive off the bat of Lorenzo Cain in the second.
Best quote: Weaver on Pujols: “I think you guys are seeing a pretty healthy Albert out there, man. It’s fun to see him moving well at first base. And even when he gets in the box, he just looks way more comfortable as far as his swing and approach goes. It’s night and day from last year, man.”
Angels’ record: 11-10-2