Angels' leadoff man J.B. Shuck doubled to left on the second pitch of Tuesday night's game. Mike Trout hit a sharp grounder to third on the fourth pitch from Nationals' right-hander Taylor Jordan. Anthony Rendon corralled Trout's grounder, but rushed and threw wide of first, pulling Tyler Moore off the bag.
Los Angeles Angels' slugger Albert Pujols stepped to the plate two home runs short of 500 for his career and took one step closer with a three-run blast to deep left field in Nationals Park on 1-1 change up in the zone that LA's 34-year-old first baseman clobbered.
"You make mistakes to somebody like Albert, and you're going to pay for it," Washington's first-year skipper, Matt Williams, told reporters after the game.
"He's been doing that for a long, long time," Williams said. "The first pitch he hit over the fence was a hanging offspeed pitch, which he's paid to do. And then the second time, he got a ball up again."
Jordan threw a 1-2 fastball to Pujols in the fifth that was half a plate away from where Sandy Leon set up outside.
"I just put a lot of pressure on myself to make that pitch, and I didn't execute it," Jordan said.
Jordan, 25, surrendered just 14 home runs total in 339 IP in five seasons in the minors before making his MLB debut last summer and just four total last season in 139 innings between High-A, Double-A and the majors.
He gave up two in five innings of work against the Angels tonight in the nation's capital.
Pujols' second home run was the third off Jordan in 21 2/3 IP this season (3.60 HR/9). In four starts, he's (0-3) with a 7.20 ERA, 6.84 FIP, six walks (3.24 K/9) and 17 Ks (7.06 K/9).
"I think for Taylor it's been just balls up in the strike zone," Williams said when asked to diagnose Jordan's problems early this season. "And it's an example tonight. Albert's a professional hitter. Like we talked about yesterday, he's one of the best of his generation. That's what he does. He makes pitchers pay for balls that are left up. And he did that tonight."
"He's a great hitter," Jordan said. "He's been around for a long time. He's got 500 home runs in the big leagues. That's something in its own."
"Generally, when he's good, the ball is sinking," Williams explained.
"The changeup is down, out of the zone, breaking ball is down. But over the last couple, the ball has been elevated. And like I said, if you get in those situations with guys like Pujols, you're going to pay for it and he did tonight. I mean, the balls were just up in the strike zone."
Jordan's been leaving pitches up and as a reporter noted, his fastball velocity has been down.
According to Fangraphs.com, his two-seam fastball is down from an average of 91.4 mph in 2013 to 89.3 mph this season with his four-seamer averaging 90.0 mph, down from 92.3 last season.
"I've noticed it," Jordan said of the drop in velocity. "I don't know what the cause of it is, but if I can get my sinker in the location that I want it, then velocity shouldn't really matter too much."
Williams said in the end, he was able to appreciate Pujols' second home run, which put LA up 6-2 after four and a half innings in what ended up a 7-2 game.
"It's a huge milestone in the grand scheme of baseball," Williams said. "You don't want it to happen against you, for sure, but I admire the man and I admire his ability and the way he goes about playing the game. And I have for a long time. I just wish he would do it against somebody else."