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Unlike his spring debut last week, Mike Trout didn't hit an official grand slam in his first plate appearance on Thursday, but his attempt to pull off an inside-the-park home run was loaded with just about everything you could want.
Facing Dodgers starter Dan Haren in the bottom of the first inning, Trout drilled a 2-0 pitch to centerfield, where Yasiel Puig made an unsuccessful attempt at a diving catch. The ball dribbled to the wall as Trout turned on the jets, but Puig hit cutoff man Hanley Ramirez with his throw, and Ramirez's relay to A.J. Ellis beat Trout home, with Ellis applying the tag on his ribs right as Trout's right arm reached the plate on a head-first slide. Home plate umpire Rob Drake called Trout out, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia availed himself of the opportunity to challenge the call with a request for an instant replay. The call was upheld, and the game continued.
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If you're scoring at home, you have a whole lot more than just a triple and an 8-6-2 putout:
• Trout showing off the considerable speed that enabled him to total 17 triples and 82 steals over the past two seasons, speed that, in combination with his power, is about to make him a very wealthy man.
• Puig being used off-label (he made just six starts in centerfield last year) and making an ill-advised decision to dive for the ball.
• Puig recovering and hitting the cutoff man, something he was criticized endlessly for failing to do last year.
• Ramirez making a flawless one-hop relay to Ellis, who demonstrated his knowledge of the new collision rule by staying out of Trout's path and reaching in for the tag.
• Scioscia showing off some good, grumpy Sciosciaface in contesting the call.
• The new instant replay system working well under makeshift conditions involving fewer cameras and on-site video review instead of sending the call back to MLB Advanced Media headquarters in New York. Via Los Angeles Daily News beat writer J.P. Hoornstra, the review lasted one minute and 12 seconds.
In all, everybody was in midseason form. Bravo, gentlemen!
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