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Angels Official Website: Angels do a little of everything in home-opening victory


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ANAHEIM — If the worst part of your night is that you have too many good pitches to choose from, well, then you’ve had a pretty good night.

So it was for Jesse Chavez, who was merely the headliner on a night in which the Angels did most everything right in a 5-1 victory over the Seattle Mariners in the home opener on Friday night.

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A sellout crowd of 43,911 saw good defense, some clutch homers and good pitching, starting with Chavez.

“To have an outing like this one, in the first one, the home opener, it’s something I’ll cherish,” Chavez said. “It’s something I wanted to do well with.”

Ironically, Chavez’s only hiccup came in the sixth inning when he “got a little confused about what to throw, because we had everything working.”

Chavez’s fastballs, darting left and right, and his breaking ball, were all working so well that he appeared to outthink himself when trying to figure out what to throw in order to finish off the heart of the Seattle lineup a third time.

As a result, 82 pitches of one-hit brilliance, including retiring 11 in a row, turned into three singles over seven pitches, which ended his night with two outs in the fifth.

No worries, though.

On this night the Angels had his back, starting with reliever Jose Alvarez. Alvarez, who barely had enough time to warm up because it unraveled so quickly for Chavez, nonetheless struck out Kyle Seager on three pitches, stranding two runners and preserving a 2-1 lead.

In the seventh, just after Cameron Maybin’s first homer with the Angels padded the lead to 3-1, Andrelton Simmons made two nice defensive plays to help Bud Norris escape with a scoreless inning.

Those plays capped a night in which the Angels made three nice plays back in the second, including a sliding catch by Maybin in left. Trout also snagged a bullet to his right, and C.J. Cron made a nice backhand pickup to end the inning.

“Unbelievable,” Chavez said. “Hands down, I believe (this defense) is the best in the game. Anywhere you look, there’s a quality defender. Just let those guys do work. Throw the ball in the zone and let those guys do what they’re supposed to do.”

Maybin shrugged off his catch — “It was OK” — but not the team’s defense as a whole.

“There was a moment out there I really felt like, this may be the best outfield in baseball, defensively,” he said.

Right fielder Kole Calhoun, who had already made two spectacular catches in the season’s first week, had a routine night in the outfield, but he contributed a critical two-run homer in the bottom of the seventh, pushing the lead to 5-1.

As welcome as the homer may have been, it denied Angels fans a chance to see Scioscia do some unconventional bullpen management.

Scioscia had Cam Bedrosian warming up to pitch the top of the eighth in a two-run game. Bedrosian had recorded the only save of the first week for the Angels. Even though Scioscia hadn’t named him the closer, the assumption was that it would be his job until he lost it.

But Scioscia said he wanted to use Bedrosian in the eighth because the Mariners had their 2-3-4 hitters due.

“We definitely wanted to match up,” Scioscia said.

Alas, Calhoun’s homer made it a four-run lead, and then the Angels got Andrew Bailey loose to pitch the eighth. He pitched a perfect inning anyway, which is the kind of night it was.

The names didn’t matter. Just about everyone did a little something. Yunel Escobar chipped in with three hits and Calhoun, Simmons and Martin Maldonado each had two.

While there remain significant questions — like, can one of their starters ever get through the sixth inning? — they have shown potential in winning three of their first five games. Maybe they are better than the baseball world thinks.

“I don’t know what people think, but we like what we have,” Maybin said. “We never quit fighting. It makes for a lot of fun moments.”

Contact the writer: jlfletcher@scng.com

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