ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles played right into Jason Vargas’ hands, rolling over most of the pitches they put in play and getting just three hits against the Los Angeles Angels lefty.
Miguel Gonzalez gave up home runs to Mark Trumbo and Mike Trout before a blister on his thumb forced him out of the game after six innings and 80 pitches. The Orioles grounded into 15 groundball outs, leaving manager Buck Showalter with nothing positive to talk about following their 4-0 loss on Friday night.
The Orioles also finished the game without home run and RBI leader Chris Davis, who was replaced in the field by Ryan Flaherty after injuring his right knee running out grounder to third base leading off the fifth.
“We’re waiting to see if they can get an MRI set up tomorrow, but I just talked to Chris and he’s pretty upbeat about it,” Showalter said. “So we’ll see what we’ve got. We’re hoping for good news, and I share Chris’ optimism.”
Gonzalez (2-2) gave up three runs and six hits and struck out five without walking a batter. His last one was Howie Kendrick, whose nine-pitch at bat to end the sixth could have led to the blister.
“I think Miggy pitched really well. It’s too bad he had to come out with a blister. He could have maybe finished the game,” Showalter said. “We’ve got an off-day next week, so we can give him an extra day. But we’ll see if he’ll miss that start. It’s a pretty deep blister. He ripped the top off of it.”
Vargas (1-3) threw 107 pitches in his sixth start for the Angels, striking out three and walking two. The shutout was the fourth by the left-hander in 136 career starts and his ninth complete game. He also lowered his ERA to 1.63 against the Orioles in seven starts against them, his best against any team.
“He has great command on both sides of the plate, he’s got a good changeup and his breaking ball and he’s very athletic,” Showalter said. “I thought when they made that acquisition in the off-season, it was one of the better ones made under the radar. They’ll like him before the season’s over.”
Vargas did not allow a hit until J.J. Hardy slapped an opposite-field single to right with two out in the fifth. He walked his next batter, Steve Pearce, on four pitches before Alexi Casilla grounded out.
“It was one of those games where the balls they hit hard happened to go at people,” said Vargas, who retired his first four batters on flyballs. “But if you can control the count and control the hitter, you’re going to have the upper hand.”
The Orioles got a runner to third in the seventh when Adam Jones led off with a double and advanced on a groundout by Flaherty. But Jones was tagged out in a rundown by third baseman Alberto Callaspo, who fielded Hardy’s grounder as Jones went on contact.
Baltimore’s only other hit was a one-out double in the ninth by Nick Markakis. But Vargas ended it by striking out Adam Jones and retiring pinch-hitter Chris Snyder — fittingly enough — on a grounder to third base.
“He’s a competitor, man,” said Angels injured ace Jered Weaver, who has known Vargas since they were teammates at Long Beach State. “He had some good stuff at Long Beach. He was like a 94 guy in college, but we all know that that doesn’t last forever. He’s turned himself into a pitcher now. He’s not a thrower like he was in college.”
Gonzalez retired the side on just five pitches in the first inning, but Trumbo drove his first offering of the second to left-center for his seventh home run and fourth in five games.
The Angels got a runner to third base in the third, when Erick Aybar doubled with two out and advanced on a wild pitch. Gonzalez escaped the jam by striking out Trout, but last season’s AL rookie of the year made up for it his next time up in the fifth with a drive over the left field fence after a single by J.B. Shuck.
Trout made it 4-0 in the seventh with an RBI single off Troy Patton.
NOTES: Gonzalez was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Angels in December 2004, but never played for the big club. His first big league start came against them on July 6, 2012 at the Big A, allowing a run over seven innings in a 3-2 victory. During that game he wore a glove given to him by minor league teammate Nick Adenhart, who was killed by a convicted drunk driver in 2009. … Mark Leiter Jr., the son of the former Angels pitcher, struck out 20 batters Friday night for New Jersey Institute of Technology in a 5-3 victory over Chicago State. He was only 3 years old when his infant brother Ryan died of spinal muscular atrophy in April 1994, just as their father was beginning his only season with the Halos. … Callaspo returned from the disabled list after missing 19 games with a bruised left heel.
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