April 6, 2012; Anaheim, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (5) at bat in the first inning against the Kansas City Royals at Angel Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE
(Sports Network) - It took a little while, but the Angels' offense finally broke through in a season-opening win over the Royals on Friday. And that was without production from Albert Pujols.
Pujols, still looking for his first hit in an Angels uniform, leads Los Angeles this afternoon in the continuation of a three-game series versus Kansas City.
The Angels' big offseason pickup, Pujols went 0-for-3 with a walk in his regular-season debut, while starter Jered Weaver threw eight scoreless innings of four-hit ball with 10 strikeouts. He appeared to be in danger of getting a touch-luck no-decision before the Angels plated all of their runs in the bottom of the eight in a 5-0 victory.
Weaver credited catcher Chris Iannetta in his performance and some clutch hitting.
"I wanted to get out there and establish a fastball early," remarked Weaver. "Chris threw down the right fingers and we were on the right page. We had some timely hitting. It was a good all around team win tonight."
Erick Aybar broke the game open with a three-run triple and Torii Hunter followed with an RBI single for the Angels.
Kansas City starter Bruce Chen allowed just three hits in six innings, but was lifted in the seventh for losing pitcher Aaron Crow. Jeff Francoeur had the only extra-base hit for the Royals, who finished 20 games below .500 at 71-91 last season.
"Bruce pitched a heck of a game," said Royals manager Ned Yost. "He gave us six strong innings. We knew we were going to be in a battle facing Weaver."
It won't get any easier for Yost's club tonight with the Angels set to start the consistent Dan Haren.
The right-hander went 16-10 last year for the Angels with a 3.17 earned run average, four complete games, three shutouts and only 33 walks over 238 1/3 innings and 34 starts. Haren finished second in the league with 1.246 walks per nine innings and was solid this past spring, going 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA in six starts, striking out 25 with only two walks.
Haren, 31, is 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in eight career starts versus the Royals.
Royals starter Luke Hochevar, meanwhile, takes aim at his first career victory against the Angels. The top pick of the 2006 draft has struggled in this series, going 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA in four career starts, allowing 19 earned runs over 21 1/3 frames.
The 28-year-old righty made a career-high 31 starts a season ago, going 11-11 with a 4.68 ERA. Hochevar hit his stride after the All-Star break, going 6-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 12 outings and seemed to carry that over into spring training. He posted a 3-1 mark and 2.84 ERA in five starts this past spring.
Kansas City won seven of its 10 matchups with the Halos a year ago.
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