The cheers at Angel Stadium were already deafening before the ball started its descent. Mike Trout, leader of the Angels and destroyer of baseballs, hit a two-run home run that disappeared into the night. For the Angels, it was an electric start to a game that soured in the late innings.
Reliever Jimmy Herget gave up a three-run home run to Bo Bichette in the seventh, erasing the Angels’ two-run lead en route to a 4-3 home-opening loss Friday night to Toronto.
“S— happens,” Herget said. “I pitched well last year. Got a lot of righties out. It’s just how baseball is sometimes. It’s a roller coaster. … It was the wrong pitch, wrong time, and unfortunately we lost the game because of it.”
Two of the three runs were charged to Herget. One of the runs was charged to Matt Moore, who gave up a single to start the seventh inning before retiring his next two batters. Manager Phil Nevin then went to Herget with right-handed hitter George Springer up.
Nevin explained that he went to Herget because Moore in the past has given up a home run to Springer and that Herget typically fares well against right-handed hitters. Springer managed a single off Herget, putting the tying run on the bases with Bichette at the plate.
“He just made an uncharacteristic pitch there in that spot,” Nevin said. “I trust him, and I’m going to keep going to him … I think he’s our best right-on-right guy. He’s proven that. He did it all last year.”
The Angels’ offense also was unable to muster more than three hits, the first by Trout. Nevin said the Angels’ lack of hits spoke more about Blue Jays starter Chris Bassitt’s prowess.
“More so, I thought Bassitt was really good after [Trout’s home run],” Nevin said. “Reason why he was one of the top free agents this offseason.”
Trout’s shot, which came on the first pitch of his first at-bat, represented his 900th and 901st career RBIs. He became just the third Angels player to rack up 900 or more RBIs, joining Garret Anderson (1,292) and Tim Salmon (1,016). His two-run contribution helped back up the six innings of one-run ball by Patrick Sandoval.
Trout pointed a finger up in his own celebration before having a samurai warrior helmet (picked out by Shohei Ohtani, per sideline reporter Erica Weston) bestowed on him.
It was an added celebration and a key moment for the Angels in a game in which Sandoval walked off the mound with a lead.
Sandoval received a bit of help, such as a catch by Trout at the warning track in the sixth. Taylor Ward made another one of those edge-of-the-outfield catches in the first inning, securing the first out of the game.
“I battled a lot,” Sandoval said. “They put some good swings on some balls. We made some good plays. Glad I was able to get through six.”
And Gio Urshela helped secure the final out of the top of the fifth inning, fielding a bouncy grounder down the third base line, making the long throw to Jake Lamb at first. Lamb actually fell making the catch, but kept his foot on the bag as he dropped to the ground.
“It was an awesome throw,” Sandoval said of Urshela’s play. “First, too, was incredible. Lamb staying on the bag. That’s a tough read for a first baseman.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.