NEW YORK (AP) – Saturday night, center stage, under the Yankee Stadium spotlight. And the best player in baseball put on quite a show.
Mike Trout homered and doubled three times during his first five-hit game in the majors as the Los Angeles Angels quickly recovered from a rocky start in rolling to an 11-4 victory over the New York Yankees.
“It’s awesome. Preparation, working on timing, and nice payoff tonight,” Trout said. “I was just getting pitches where I like it and I wasn’t missing.”
Playing not far from his southern New Jersey hometown, Trout went deep for the third straight game to tie Boston’s Mookie Betts for the big league lead with 17 homers. The two-time MVP drove in four runs, scored three and set career bests with four extra-base hits and 11 total bases.
Trout added an infield single and finished 5 for 5, including a two-run homer in the fourth inning off shaky Sonny Gray (3-4) that put the Angels ahead 5-4.
“He had a night that was incredible,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “Gave us a big lift and we needed it. In this park, you’ve got to keep scoring and we did.”
Jose Briceno homered in his major league debut for the Angels, and rookie Jaime Barria (4-1) returned from the minors to win his third consecutive big league decision. Scioscia tied Dodgers mentor and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda for 20th place on the career list with 1,599 wins as a manager.
Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge began the bottom of the first with back-to-back homers for the Yankees, who lost for only the third time in their last 17 home games. Austin Romine poked a two-run shot off the right-field foul pole to give New York a 4-1 lead in the second.
The 21-year-old Barria settled down after that and lasted five innings before three Los Angeles relievers combined to allow just one hit the rest of the way.
“I think you saw his makeup right there. This could have taken some ugly turns,” Scioscia said.
Coming off his best outing this season, eight dominant innings at Kansas City, the inconsistent Gray took a step back. He was charged with five runs, seven hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.
“I think the stuff was good, just the results weren’t,” Gray said. “I don’t think I got a leadoff hitter out all night and that can make for a long game for a starter.”
Trout hit an RBI double off the left-field wall in the first and laced a double to right in the third. After his homer to left in the fourth, he had an RBI double to left-center in the sixth and an infield single to deep shortstop in the seventh.
“He’s an unbelievable player and I think he kind of showed that tonight,” Gray said.
Albert Pujols had a two-run single as the Angels broke it open with a four-run sixth, taking advantage of a costly error by rookie second baseman Gleyber Torres.
Shohei Ohtani threw a bullpen before the game and then went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and a bases-loaded walk as the designated hitter. Ohtani also grounded into a double play that scored a run. He initially was lined up to pitch Sunday against Japanese countryman Masahiro Tanaka, but the two-way rookie sensation was pushed back by the Angels to manage his workload. Ohtani would seem likely to be the DH against Tanaka on Sunday, though Scioscia wouldn’t commit to that. Ohtani appears to be tracking toward making his next start on the mound Wednesday in Detroit, but the team has not made any announcement.
Called up Sunday from Triple-A Salt Lake, Briceno enjoyed a terrific debut after eight-plus seasons in the minors. With his wife on hand, along with his mother and uncle all the way from Venezuela, the 25-year-old backup catcher started and lined a fourth-inning single for his first career hit. He was thrown out stretching on the play as he tumbled over second base with an awkward rolling slide . But he drew a leadoff walk and scored in the sixth before hitting a two-run homer off Chasen Shreve in the seventh. He also threw out Judge trying to steal second. “I don’t have words to explain how I feel,” said Briceno, who grew up a Yankees fan. “That was outstanding.”
Angels: LF Justin Upton exited with a bruised left forearm, two innings after he was hit by a pitch from Gray. X-rays were negative.
Yankees: 1B Greg Bird (ankle surgery) was reinstated from the disabled list and went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts in his season debut. … OF Jacoby Ellsbury, sidelined all season with oblique, foot and hip injuries, has a new problem – his back. He isn’t participating in baseball activities at the team’s complex in Florida but is receiving treatment, GM Brian Cashman told reporters.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (4-3, 3.31 ERA) starts the rubber game of the series Sunday on his 30th birthday. Richards is 0-4 with an 8.10 ERA in six career games, five starts, against the Yankees. They tagged him for a season-high nine runs – five earned – over 1 2/3 innings on April 28 at home.
Yankees: Tanaka (5-2, 4.95) is 2-0 in five career starts against the Angels, with New York winning all five games. His 1.60 ERA is his lowest against any opponent he’s faced more than once. Unbeaten in his last six outings overall, the right-hander permitted only two hits in six innings and struck out a season-high nine to beat Richards 11-1 last month.
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