In a mixture of respect for the opponent and stating the obvious, the Oakland Athletics said it’s much easier it is to face the Angels without their two superstars from past teams — outfielder Mike Trout and first baseman Albert Pujols — in the lineup. The A’s had just beat Los Angeles 6-2 behind strong pitching from Chris Bassitt and multiple home runs.
Trout is injured and Pujols, the 41-year-old veteran, was released and now plays for the Dodgers. Manager Bob Melvin said that though Pujols’ presence was huge, Trout was the main concern.
“There are different challenges, but obviously not having Trout in (the lineup) softens things a little bit. It doesn’t mean they still don’t have a good lineup.” — A’s manager Bob MelvinSan Francisco Chronicle
Bassitt’s performance backed that up. MLB sensation Shohei Ohtani couldn’t save a depleted Angels lineup as the A’s opening day starter pitched 7 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits before the Angels got to him a bit in the eighth.
And Bassitt also didn’t shy away from stating the difference in the Angels’ lineup without Trout or Pujols.
“A lot easier,” Bassitt said. “Not to be rude to that lineup. They still have great guys in that lineup. But, yeah, you take away Trout, who in my opinion is the best player to ever play this game, and then obviously Pujols is a veteran guy who knows what he’s doing at the plate.
“So taking those two bats out of your lineup, we’re happy for that, I’ll tell that.”San Francisco Chronicle
The times are easier for now, but it’s not as if this is the last time the A’s will face the Angels all season. It’s the first series this year between the division foes. Trout is slated to return from his calf strain in 6-to-8 weeks. So the A’s will probably miss him again on May 27-30 and June 14-16 in Oakland. But the clubs play nine more times after that, starting on July 19, when Trout could potentially return.
But for now, the A’s are feeling the difference without the Angels superstar and his former aging sidekick. Over the course of a long baseball season, it’s important to stack up wins by whatever means necessary. And even if earning those wins seems easier than it should, the A’s are happy for the benefit.
(Photo credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)