ANAHEIM (AP) — Ricky Nolasco had extra days between starts to work on mechanical issues and it paid off.
He led the Los Angeles Angels to a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Thursday night to earn the series sweep.
Nolasco didn’t go into details of the adjustments, but they sure worked for him, keeping the Athletics off balance.
“They were good,” Nolasco said of the time to make mechanical adjustments. “They were much-needed to get back on schedule. Go get them in Seattle.”
Nolasco (2-2) threw 5 2/3 innings, allowing one run and three hits. The Angels (12-12) have won four consecutive games and are back to .500 as they head to Texas. Nolasco’s next start will be in Seattle.
“Just cleaning up some things on the front leg with my leg and overall mechanics,” Nolasco said. “Everything felt good.”
Bud Norris is settling into the closer’s role for the Angels since injuries have left that job open. It’s been a seamless transition. He pitched a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season and second in as many nights.
In the sixth inning, Nolasco walked two batters and Yonder Alonso reached on an error to load the bases. Blake Parker relieved Nolasco and struck out Ryon Healy with the bases loaded to end the inning.
The Angels, who scored eight runs in the previous game’s win over the Athletics, scored two runs in the first inning. Mike Trout, who has an 11-game hitting streak, hit a two-out double, followed by a run-scoring single by Albert Pujols and an RBI double by C.J. Cron. Trout, the reigning AL MVP, has hit safely in 23 of 24 games this season.
Norris, a former starter, is blossoming as a closer for now. Huston Street and Cam Bedrosian are both injured. And Norris looks very much like he has the makeup to pitch well in that role, something that’s not easy to do.
“He’s walking around like a closer,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He’s filling the role and doing a great job.”
Oakland starter Kendall Graveman (2-1), who came off the disabled list after missing one start with a minor shoulder strain allowed two runs in six innings and scattered six hits. He struck out four and walked none.
He also turned an unassisted double play , the first by an Oakland pitcher since Blue Moon Odom did it on July 11, 1971. He tagged Ben Revere in a rundown and flipped through the air to get Cliff Pennington at third.
“That’s probably the best play I’ve ever seen a pitcher make, hurdling over a defender to get the second out unassisted,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “I didn’t even know how to put that one down on the card. He pitched great. One pitch, really. A two-strike pitch to Trout. Strike or not. Two doubles. That’s all they get off him. I thought he pitched really well.”
FROM PUCKS TO BASEBALLS
The Edmonton Oilers are in town for their Western Conference semifinals series against the Ducks. The Oilers won Game 1 and on their off day before tomorrow’s Game 2, star Connor McDavid and Patrick Maroon - a former Duck and friend of the Angels - attended batting practice. Maroon caught up with Mike Trout, and Albert Pujols signed baseballs for the contingent.
You can see the Honda Center, the Ducks’ home arena, just behind left-center field at Angel Stadium.
Athletics: RHP John Axford (strained right shoulder) threw from 90 feet and could join the team on the upcoming road trip. ... LHP Sean Manaea (left shoulder tightness) is expected to play catch in Texas on Friday. He left Wednesday’s start after just 34 pitches in two innings.
Angels: RHP Mike Morin (neck tightness) is expected to start throwing in a few days. ... RHP Andrew Bailey (right shoulder inflammation) has resumed throwing. ... RHP Huston Street (right lat strain) is throwing off a mound.
Oakland RHP Jharel Cotton (2-2, 4.76 ERA) will make his ninth career start against Houston on Friday night. He leads the AL in games started by a rookie (4) and innings pitched (22 2/3).
LHP Tyler Skaggs (1-1, 4.44 ERA) got his first win of the season against Toronto in his last start, allowing two runs in seven innings. Skaggs, who is pitching his first full season since Tommy John surgery, had an extra day of rest before this start against Texas.