Angels 15, Expos 4
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)—Bengie Molina was more nervous before his first major league game in his native Puerto Rico than he was before the World Series.
Molina couldn’t sleep at all the night before, anticipating the reaction he would get from the passionate fans. There were nothing but cheers for the hometown hero.
Molina tied his career high with four hits, capping a memorable night with a three-run homer as the Anaheim Angels spoiled the opener of Montreal’s second homestand in San Juan with a 15-4 victory over the Expos on Tuesday.
“It was a dream, a great feeling. All my family was here. I don’t have any words for it,” Molina said. “I’ll sleep a lot better tonight.”
While the game was decided early, the biggest moment came when Molina homered in the eighth. Molina, born in a suburb of San Juan, estimated he had more than 100 friends and family members in the crowd.
He received a rousing ovation as he rounded the bases and waved to his family as he went to the dugout.
“He was really happy about it, no doubt,” said he brother Jose, who hit a pinch single in the ninth. “To hit a home run in front of his dad and mom, family and friends, is unbelievable. I want to be in his shoes.”
DaVanon added another homer and Garret Anderson went 4-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs as Anaheim matched a franchise record for homers.
Hitters once again enjoyed the small ballpark with the fast artificial turf. There have been 41 homers in the first 11 games at the stadium where it’s 399 feet to dead center, 315 to left and 313 to right.
“Early on, the ball was jumping real good,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “Balls that got up in the air kept going.”
The Expos, owned by the other 29 teams, were forced to play 22 “home” games in San Juan this year because of poor attendance in Montreal. But only 10,034 fans bought tickets for the smallest crowd in the 11 games so far.
The attendance was also below the average of 11,338 in Montreal, but the last two Tuesday night games at Olympic Stadium drew fewer than 6,000 fans.
“There are different things going on in the stands, different chants,” Salmon said. “They are close to you and louder. It seemed different than a bigger stadium.”
While the Expos are the home team in San Juan, it really was just another stop on their 22-game trip away from Montreal. They have lost seven of eight to begin the stretch.
“The loss hurts because it’s the first time this season that something like this happened,” Montreal’s Jose Vidro said. “I hope the team returns to the level that we are used to.”
Ramon Ortiz (5-5) was the beneficiary of the big offensive showing, allowing four runs in six innings to earn his first win since April 29.
David Eckstein led off the game with a single and DaVanon followed with his fifth homer. Two pitches later, Salmon connected for his eighth homer, giving the Angels a 3-0 lead just six pitches into the game.
Anderson hit the next pitch for a single, prompting a visit to the mound from pitching coach Randy St. Claire.
It didn’t work. Glaus fouled off three two-strike pitches before hitting his 12th homer to make it 5-0.
“Troy Glaus, Garret Anderson—fly ball, it’s adios pelota,” Ortiz said.
Ohka stood with his hands on his hips watching Glaus round the bases. The fans gave mock applause after Scott Spiezio flied out for the first out of the game.
Anderson added an RBI double in the second inning and Ohka was replaced by T.J. Tucker after the first two batters reached in the third.
Eckstein hit an RBI single and Anderson added a two-run single to make it 9-1.
Ohka allowed eight runs and 11 hits in two-plus innings.
“A lot of balls that are outs in other parks were home runs tonight,” Expos manager Frank Robinson said. “But There are no excuses.”
Even the return of Vladimir Guerrero, who missed six straight games with a strained muscle in his lower back, couldn’t help the Expos turn it around.Guerrero did single in the sixth and scored on Brad Wilkerson’s homer.
The Angels hit three homers in an inning for the 25th time, the first since July 26, 2001, against Tampa Bay. … Ortiz was 0-3 with a 6.33 ERA his last five starts. … There have been 10.9 runs per game scored in San Juan, up from 7.9 in Montreal’s other games. … Ohka allowed two runs in 14 innings inhis first two starts in San Juan.