Trout helps give Angels upper hand over White Sox
Triples among three hits, scores twice; Richards works hard for 4 2/3 innings
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Angels offense is starting to come to life.
During Wednesday's split-squad games, they combined to outscore their two opponents, the Brewers and Rangers, 24-3. In Thursday's game against the White Sox at Tempe Diablo Stadium, an 8-6 victory, they plated seven runs in the first two innings. And in the first five innings of those last three games, the Angels have combined to score 26 runs -- even with Josh Hamilton still making his way back from a strained left calf.
"These guys are starting to hit stride," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "They're getting into their 20, 30 at-bats, and there's no doubt they're putting some things together. The whole baserunning component, the situational hitting and our ability to drive the ball is starting to show up."
Mike Trout went 3-for-3 with a triple and two runs scored, putting his Cactus League batting average at .444, and Howie Kendrick went 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and he's batting at a .435 clip.
White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana, who exited his last start in the first inning with a shin contusion, completed three innings and left with a 7-1 deficit.
Albert Pujols put his team on the board in the first with a long sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Trout, and the Angels sent 10 batters to the plate in a six-run second. With the bases loaded and one out, Erick Aybar smoked a two-run double to left field, Kole Calhoun followed with a two-run triple and Trout hit an RBI single. After stealing second and advancing to third on an errant throw by White Sox catcher Josh Phegley, who's fighting for a spot on the roster, Trout scored on David Freese's RBI single.
"I need to continue my preparation," Quintana said, "and the next start will be better for me."
Angels right-hander Garrett Richards hit a batter, gave up seven hits and struck out only two, but he gave up only two runs in 4 2/3 innings -- on an RBI single by second baseman Micah Johnson and a key error by Aybar, who dropped the throw from Richards on a potential inning-ending, 1-6-3 double play.
"I was just trying to get ahead of guys, trying to throw the breaking ball for strikes, trying to get ground balls, let the infield work, let the defense work," said Richards, who has yet to issue a walk in 11 2/3 innings this spring. "It was a good job today of damage control and getting ground balls when I needed to."
White Sox center fielder Jordan Danks went 2-for-2 with three runs scored; Matt Davidson, trying to win a starting job at third base, went 2-for-3; Johnson went 2-for-3 with three RBIs; and first baseman Jose Abreu went 1-for-4 while serving as the designated hitter, bringing his Cactus League batting average to .280.
Michael Kohn, fighting for one of at least two vacant spots in the Angels' bullpen, gave up three runs in the eighth and couldn't finish the inning. Alex Liddi scored on a strikeout-wild pitch, and Blake Tekotte followed with a long two-run homer.
Up next: Tyler Skaggs, the 22-year-old left-hander who's an overwhelming favorite for the fifth spot in the rotation, makes his third start of the spring on Friday, when the Angels travel to Peoria to face the Padres. Skaggs has given up two runs in 6 1/3 innings, and hurled four one-hit innings against the Reds five days ago. First pitch is at 1:05 p.m. PT, live on MLB.TV and Gameday Audio.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.