Molina, who hails from Puerto Rico, had between 100 and 140 friends and family members in attendance for the opener on Tuesday and did not disappoint, stroking four hits, including a three-run homer, in the Angels’ 15-4 win.
“I’m very excited,” Molina said. “It’s a dream come true. This is great to have the chance to finally play in front of my family as a major leaguer.”
Molina’s big night capped a 22-hit attack for the Angels, who scored their most runs since a 15-3 win over Seattle last July 19. Outfielder Garret Anderson also had four hits and a homer, as Anaheim matched a franchise record with six home runs.
The Angels’ offensive explosion was nothing new at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, where there have been 41 homers hit in 11 games. Expos games have averaged 10.9 runs per game in San Juan, compared with 7.9 runs on the road and at Olympic Stadium.
One bright spot for the Expos on Tuesday was the return of slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who was back in the lineup after missing six games with a strained muscle in his lower back. Guerrero was 1-for-4 with a run scored.
“The other team respects him greatly,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “They pitch to other guys differently because of him. Even if he’s not hitting the way he’s used to hitting, he still carries a lot of respect. The other guys on the team feel like they have to carry the load when he’s out.”
Montreal, which was 1-5 with its All-Star right fielder out of the lineup, has lost seven of the first eight games on its 22-game trip away from Montreal.
STANDINGS: Angels - 3rd place, 9 GB, AL West. Expos - 2nd place, 5 1/2 GB, NL East.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTER: Jarrod Washburn (5-5, 3.22 ERA). Washburn was brilliant in a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday, pitching 6 2-3 scoreless innings. The left-hander allowed just four hits and three walks, while striking out three. Washburn has never faced the Expos.
EXPOS PROBABLE STARTER: Sun-Woo Kim (no record). Kim is making his first start of the season after injuries to pitchers Tony Armas and Zach Day forced him into the rotation. The right-hander was a late-season call-up last year after being acquired in the trade that sent Cliff Floyd to Boston. He was 1-0 with a 0.89 ERA in three starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Angels - Tim Salmon, .306 avg.; Troy Glaus, 12 HRs and 37 runs; Anderson, 46 RBIs; Adam Kennedy, 9 SBs. Expos - Jose Vidro, .335 avg.; Guerrero and Orlando Cabrera, 8 HRs and 33 RBIs; Cabrera, 36 runs; Endy Chavez, 10 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Angels - 1-0; Expos - 0-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Angels - CF Darin Erstad went 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs for Triple-A Salt Lake against Tucson in a rehab assignment Monday night. Erstad, sidelined since April 26 with a hamstring injury, could rejoin the Angels during a homestand that begins next Monday. … RHP Troy Percival (injured hip) is scheduled to throw a simulated game Wednesday. … C Jose Molina, Bengie’s brother, had a pinch-hit single in the ninth for Anaheim on Tuesday. Expos - Only 10,034 showed up Tuesday, the smallest crowd in 11 games so far at Bithorn Stadium. … C Michael Barrett has played in just two games since hurting his finger on May 18, going 0-for-6. … Robinson played for the Angels in 1973-74. He hit 30 homers for them in 1973.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Angels- 13-15 on the road. Expos - 19-10 at home.
INJURIES: Angels - RHP Percival (hip), 15-day DL; OF Erstad (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Matt Wise (elbow), 60-day DL. Expos - RHP Day (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Armas (right labrum), 15-day DL; RHP Orlando Hernandez (shoulder); 15-day DL.