Angels 9, Blue Jays 6
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) _ George Arias knew he hit the ball deep, but he still hustled down the first base line, remembering the last time he thought his first major league homer was sailing over the fence.
This time, there was no Ken Griffey Jr. climbing the wall to rob Arias. The California rookie hit a three-run homer to start the Angels on their way to a 9-6 victory Thursday over Toronto.
``I didn’t know what to expect after that one in Seattle when `The Kid’ robbed me,″ Arias said of Griffey’s spectacular catch Tuesday at the Kingdome.
``I took off sprinting to first this time.″
Arias smiled and added, ``I wanted to get that (his first homer) out of the way. I had been putting too much pressure on myself.″
Arias, who led the Texas League last year with 30 homers and 104 RBIs for Midland, made the Angels’ roster with an impressive performance this spring and won the starting job over Jack Howell and former two-time Gold Glove winner Tim Wallach.
The 24-year-old Arias has been impressive in the field, but struggled at the plate with a .220 average and hadn’t driven in a run since opening day.
``He’s got a lot of power and he will hit some home runs,″ California manager Marcel Lachemann said. ``But right now his big job for us is to make the plays at third base. If he plays third base well, his hitting will be a bonus.″
Arias’ homer capped a five-run first inning, but the Angels let the Blue Jays back in the game before sealing the win with two runs in the eighth.
California was up 6-0 against rookie Jeff Ware (0-2) in the second inning. But Toronto scored two runs on bases-loaded walks, another on a wild pitch, and three unearned runs following second baseman Randy Velarde’s error in the sixth inning.
That pulled Toronto within 7-6 before Mike James, the third California pitcher, finally ended the uprising by getting Joe Carter on a groundout.
Jim Edmonds had three hits and two RBIs, including a run-scoring double in the eighth. Howell also drove in a run with a pinch single to give California a three-run pad.
James (3-1) shut out Toronto on one hit through 2 1-3 innings. Troy Percival pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
Run-scoring singles by Edmonds and J.T. Snow preceded Arias’ homer off Ware, who allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks in four innings.
``He hasn’t destroyed all my confidence in him,″ Toronto manager Cito Gaston said of Ware, who has given up 15 earned runs in two starts covering 5-plus innings.
``I just hope he hasn’t destroyed his own confidence and his teammates’ confidence in him. He’s just not getting his curveball over like he was in spring training, and his forkball is flat.″
Said Ware: ``My key pitch is the splitfinger (fastball) and I haven’t had it the last two starts. They laid off a lot of borderline pitches tonight until they got the pitch they liked.″
Obviously struggling, Ware hit Snow with an 0-2 pitch with the bases loaded in the second inning to make it 6-0.
Carter’s solo homer, his second of the year, started a three-run fourth inning against Scott Sanderson, who issued a bases-loaded walk to Sandy Martinez. Todd Frohwirth relieved, and his wild pitch allowed another run to score.
Frohwirth walked home the Blue Jays’ first run of their sixth-inning rally, then Carlos Delgado greeted James with a two-run single.
The Angels scored what turned out to be the deciding run in the fourth inning, on Garret Anderson’s RBI double.
Notes: In addition to Snow, Ware also plunked Velarde in the third inning. They are the only batters Toronto pitchers have hit in their first 132 innings this season. Opposing pitchers have hit 12 Blue Jay hitters, the most in the AL. ... Ware, 7-0 last season with Toronto’s Triple-A Syracuse farm club, has surrendered 11 first-inning runs in his first two starts this season and has yet to strike out a batter in his eight innings of work. His ERA in seven career starts is 8.91 (31 earned runs in 31 1-3 innings).... Toronto pitchers have given up 58 earned runs in their last seven games. ... Angels closer Lee Smith, out since April 4 because of knee problems, is scheduled to make a rehab assignment Friday at Class-A Lake Elsinore. It will be the first minor-league appearance since 1980 for baseball’s all-time saves leader. ... Second baseman Damion Easley’s shoulder is still too sore for the Angels to send him on a rehab assignment. Lachemann wants him healthy enough to be able to play at east 16 times in a 20-day span.