ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Angels hope they’ve got one of the best outfields in baseball this season, and not just because Mike Trout is in the middle of it.
In their excellent home opener, the Angels’ fans got to see what each member of this trio can do.
Cameron Maybin and Kole Calhoun homered, and Jesse Chavez pitched five-hit ball into the sixth inning of the Angels’ 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Trout drove in the first run amid numerous “M-V-P!” chants, and he joined Maybin in making key defensive plays as the Angels snapped a four-game skid in openers at the Big A, thrilling their sellout crowd.
“It was electric,” Maybin said after his home debut. “The fans are truly behind us. You could feel it. The atmosphere is great. It’s fun to see a sea of red out there. It does something to the spirits. I’m enjoying myself already.”
The Angels and their fans are hoping for some enjoyment this year after their 74-win performance last season, their worst in manager Mike Scioscia’s 17-year tenure.
“We played a good game, definitely,” Scioscia said. “We’ve really played good defense early, and (Chavez) did a good job of hitting his spots and making our defense’s job easier.”
Nelson Cruz drove in the only run for the Mariners, who dropped to 1-4 to open a season for the first time since 2010. Yovani Gallardo (0-1) yielded eight hits and three runs over five innings in his debut for Seattle.
“Had to get out of some jams there in quite a bit of innings, but it felt good to get out of certain tough situations and leave it right there,” Gallardo said.
Maybin put his first homer for the Angels into the elevated right-field stands in the sixth inning. Calhoun added a two-run shot in the seventh, also his first of the season.
Maybin is the Angels’ latest attempt to get stability in left field, where a series of veterans have struggled for the past several seasons.
How much have they struggled? Maybin’s homer was the first by an Angels left fielder in April since 2014.
Maybin also made a sweet sliding catch early in the game. It was part of an outstanding defensive performance by the Angels.
Chavez said the Angels’ defense is “hands-down unbelievable. The best in the game. Everywhere you look, there’s a quality defender.”
LOCAL GUY MAKES GOOD
The Angels chose Chavez (1-0) to be their fifth starter after a long career spent mostly as a reliever, and the native of nearby Fontana looked sharp for 5 2/3 innings. He had retired 11 straight before the Mariners chased him with three straight singles in the sixth, but Jose Alvarez struck out Seager to end it.
“Just to have an outing like this in a home opener, it’s something that I cherish,” said Chavez, who beat Seattle for the first time in his 18 career appearances against the Mariners, including eight starts. “Everything just felt good coming out of my hand.”
Trout was repeatedly serenaded by his fans in his first home game since winning his second AL MVP award in three seasons, and he drove in his fifth run in five games with a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
Los Angeles went up 2-0 in the third when Kyle Seager bobbled Albert Pujols’ bases-loaded grounder, which could have been converted into an easy inning-ending double play. Seager also went 0 for 4 to drop to 1 for 16 this season.
“There’s not a lot going right for him right now,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It happens to players. They kind of get in funks or whatnot. Kyle is a really good player, been a good player in this league for a long time, but right now he’s struggling a bit, and he knows it.”
Mariners: Felix Hernandez (0-1, 3.60) pitched only five innings on opening day, striking out six at Houston.
Angels: Ricky Nolasco (0-1, 4.76 ERA) returns from a middling start on opening day. He got a win over Seattle for the first time in his career last season.
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