Jake Faria had about 200 friends and family members in the stands to watch him pitch for the Tampa Bay Rays in a stadium five minutes from his childhood home.
The rest of the Big A crowd had its eyes squarely on Mike Trout in his return from a 39-game injury absence.
Faria and Trout both had solid performances before Brad Miller took care of another win for the Rays.
Trout went 1 for 5 in his first game since May 28, and Miller hit an RBI double in the 10th inning of Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
Trout looked healthy in his first game since May 28, when he tore a ligament in his left thumb sliding headfirst into second base. In his comeback game from the first significant injury of his career, the two-time AL MVP singled in the third inning and promptly stole second – again sliding headfirst, as he promised.
“It was kind of like opening day for me,” Trout said. “You take so much time off, and you want to finally get out there in a game. … I’m not changing the way I play. I’m being aggressive and I’m going to steal bases and slide headfirst.”
Trout came up with two late chances to help the Angels, but grounded out with two runners on to end the seventh before Alex Colome struck him out on three pitches to end it.
“Some at-bats, I felt good,” Trout said. “Some at-bats, I didn’t. It’s just (going to) take a few more at-bats to get me in the rhythm.”
Wilson Ramos got a two-out single in the 10th and scored on Miller’s long drive off Cam Bedrosian (2-1).
Brad Boxberger (2-0) pitched the ninth, and Colome earned his 26th save as Tampa Bay won for the seventh time in 10 games. Evan Longoria homered early for the Rays.
Albert Pujols hit his 605th career homer for the Angels, who lost for the sixth time in eight games despite seven innings of two-hit ball from starter Ricky Nolasco.
Faria pitched five-hit ball into the seventh in his hometown. Although less sharp than Nolasco, the 23-year-old rookie was equally effective while escaping big jams in the third and fourth, stranding five runners combined.
“It was weird at first,” he said. “I tried to make it feel like it was just any other game, but then being out there in that outfield, and stretching and running just looking up, it was pretty awesome.”
Faria was born and raised in Orange County. His parents had season tickets at the Big A for several years, and he modeled his delivery on longtime Angels ace Jered Weaver while in high school in nearby Cerritos.
“The streets we were taking, I see things that I see every day in the offseason,” he said. “This morning I went to breakfast with my brother and my dad. That’s just not normal stuff for me. It was kind of tough to make it feel like a normal day, but it was awesome.”
He only left nine tickets for his group, but his dad bought about 60, and his stepdad picked up 30 more. Every inning when he left the mound, Faria saw another friend waving at him behind the Rays’ dugout.
“When he walked off the mound, it felt like we were at a Rays game, not an Angels game,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.
Pujols connected on a long shot to left-center in the second for his 14th homer of the season. He is closing in on Sammy Sosa’s 609 career homers for eighth place in major league history.
Rays: Alex Cobb (7-6, 3.75 ERA) surged into the break, going 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA in his final six starts. The right-hander has one win in five previous starts against the Angels.
Angels: J.C. Ramirez (8-7, 4.46 ERA), a reliever for most of his career, improbably led Los Angeles in victories before the All-Star break. He beat the Rays at Tropicana Field in May, tossing 6 2/3 innings of six-hit ball.
Republished with permission from the Associated Press.