That’s the ticket: Cron (2 HRs) helps Angels beat A’s
ANAHEIM, Calif. — How good is Mike Trout?
The Angels center fielder and reigning American League MVP played a role in Los Angeles’ 8-2 victory over the Oakland A’s on Tuesday night, even though he missed his second game in a row because of a sore neck.
Trout made a pregame promise to Angels first baseman C.J. Cron.
“It’s kind of cool because before the game Trout told me that if I hit two homers tonight, he’d get me season tickets to the (Phoenix) Suns,” said Cron, who hit a three-run homer in the first inning and solo homer in the eighth. “I think I just won a couple thousand bucks there, and I’ll be going to all the games. I’m pretty pumped about it.”
When Cron stepped to the plate to lead off the eighth, the Angels held a 7-2 lead, and he admitted he went up there swinging for the fences. When he connected off Oakland reliever Michael Brady, the Angels’ dugout seemed giddy and Cron grinned like a Little Leaguer.
“That’s why the big smile and everyone was cheering,” he said. “It was a lot of fun, for sure. I’m going to hold him to his word.”
Initially, Cron said Trout offered season tickets to the Arizona Cardinals, but he negotiated for the Suns instead.
“I’ll try for floor (seats),” Cron joked.
Cron’s first homer put a cap on a five-run first inning against Oakland starter Chris Smith, the 36-year-old journeyman looking for his first win since 2008. That victory for Smith nine years ago while he was with the Boston Red Sox also is his only career major league win.
Smith (0-4) gave up seven runs (six earned), five hits and two walks in 3 2/3 innings.
“He got some balls up and made some mistakes,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said of Smith. “When you don’t throw 95 (mph), sometimes they get hit a little bit. He hung in for a while, so we didn’t have to use our bullpen too much. Gave up some homers and certainly put us in a hole.”
Angels starter Troy Scribner went 2 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on solo homers by Matt Joyce and Matt Olson in the second inning.
While Scribner failed to give the Angels what they were looking for on the mound, Jesse Chavez (7-10) made up for it. Chavez, relegated to the bullpen after making 21 starts this season, yielded one hit and two walks in four scoreless innings, striking out five.
“I’ve been able to tighten some things up and get off the mound a little more frequently,” Chavez said of his improvements since being moved to a relief role. “In the first half and a little bit in the second half, I was over-striding, and going back and looking at video and being in the bullpen and throwing as often as I have, it’s helped me solidify and fine-tune some things.”
The win allowed the Angels (68-65) to keep pace with Minnesota in the race for the second American League wild card. With the Twins also winning Tuesday, the Angels remain one game back.
Ahead 5-2, the Angels added two runs in the fourth inning, one on a home run by Martin Maldonado and the other on an RBI single by Ben Revere. Cron then homered in the eighth, his 10th since the All-Star break and 12th of the season.
For the A’s, it was another loss in what is becoming a forgettable season. At 58-74, they are on pace to lose 91 games. Melvin, though, is trying to look at the bright side.
Olson’s homer was his 10th of the season, giving the A’s three rookies (Olson, Matt Chapman and Chad Pinder) with 10 or more home runs in a season for the first time since 1977.
“We’re excited about this group,” Melvin said. “They’re not only getting a chance to play and get some regular at-bats, but they’re getting to do it together, too. We’re coming off a good series (vs. Texas), but we have not played terribly well here these two games.
“These guys have expectations as a group, and it’s fun to watch them together because they really support each other and they’re going to be a part of our future. We’re going to have some ups and downs, but we’re excited about where we’re going with these guys.”
NOTES: Angels CF Mike Trout, sidelined due to a sore neck that resulted from running into the outfield wall Sunday, said he feels he is improving. He expects to return to the lineup on Wednesday. ... The Angels called up OF Eric Young Jr. from Triple-A Salt Lake. Young took the roster spot of RHP Bud Norris, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of an inflamed right knee. ... A’s RHP Paul Blackburn, hit on the right hand by a comebacker Aug. 22 while pitching against the Orioles, is expected to miss several starts even though a CT scan on his hand was negative. Blackburn is 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 10 starts.