Though Pujols went hitless in his debut with his new team, the Angels hope to build on their season-opening victory when they continue their home series with the Kansas City Royals on Saturday.
In one of the most highly anticipated games in club history, Pujols went 0 for 3 with a strikeout and an intentional walk in his Angels debut Friday night. However, Jered Weaver struck out 10 over eight innings and Erick Aybar's bases-loaded triple highlighted a five-run eighth to give Los Angeles a 5-0 win over Kansas City.
Despite a quiet night individually, the three-time NL MVP and two-time World Series champion is hardly concerned.
"This is unbelievable, great win," said Pujols, a lifetime .373 hitter with 16 homers and 53 RBIs in 52 games against the Royals. "It's going to be a long season, hopefully we can have more fun.
"You want to do something special, but that's the way it goes. It's going to be a little bit different (in the AL), but as far as playing the game, I don't think anything's different."
Pujols should receive plenty of support from his teammates, who pounded out nine hits but did not score until the eighth. Kendrys Morales got the rally going with a single - his only hit in three at-bats in his first regular-season action since breaking his ankle while leaping onto home plate to celebrate a game-ending grand slam May 29, 2010.
Though Weaver's season-opening performance might be hard to top, Dan Haren hopes for a solid outing Saturday while looking to improve on a 4-1 record and 1.91 ERA in eight starts versus Kansas City.
In his first full season with the Angels in 2011, Haren matched a career high for wins by finishing 16-10 with a 3.17 ERA. The right-hander tied Weaver and Ervin Santana for the team lead with four complete games.
Over the last seven seasons, Haren ranks first in the majors in starts (237), second in innings (1,581 1-3) and fifth in wins (101).
"He's very strong, he works hard at it, he understands his mechanics," manager Mike Scioscia told the Angels' official website. "He's been able to go out there and not only grind it out, but gives you great innings for a whole season, giving you a chance to win virtually every time he takes the mound."
The Royals counter with Luke Hochevar, last season's opening day starter.
The right-hander threw a career-high 198 innings while going 11-11 with a 4.68 ERA in 31 starts in 2011. Hochevar went 4-8 with a 4.97 ERA in his first 16 starts, but improved to 7-3 with a 4.35 ERA in the last 15.
"To break it down to pitch by pitch by pitch is where I want my thought process to be," Hochevar told the Royals' official website. "I felt like I did that in the second half (of last season). That's where my all focus was."
He hopes that approach changes his results versus Los Angeles, a team he's 0-3 with an 8.02 ERA against in four career starts.
Though facing Haren will be another major challenge for the Royals, they must find a way to produce after totaling four hits and no walks Friday. Kansas City's first four batters combined to go 0 for 16 with 10 strikeouts.
- Albert Pujols
- Kansas City Royals
- Jered Weaver