Former Kentucky pitcher Alex Meyer earns first MLB victory

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Alex Meyer (40) threw in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016.
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Alex Meyer (40) threw in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays in Anaheim, Calif., on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016. AP

Nothing could spoil Alex Meyer’s first big league win. Not even a “The Cat in the Hat” costume the Los Angeles Angels rookie was forced to wear for the team’s final road trip of the season.

The former University of Kentucky star gave up two hits in five scoreless innings, Mike Trout and Albert Pujols each scored twice and the Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-0 on Sunday afternoon.

The Blue Jays fell out of a tie with Baltimore for the top AL wild-card spot and lead Seattle by one game for the second spot. Toronto has yet to win a series in September, splitting with Los Angeles.

Meyer (1-3), who addressed the media in a costume several inches too short for his 6-foot-9 frame, struck out a career-best seven and walked three in the longest outing of his career.

“I think that he understands some of the things he needs to get back to from when he pitched in college and where he feels really comfortable throwing the ball,” Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said. “His stuff out there today was explosive. He had great command, great velocity, he was spinning the ball well, threw some good changeups. Some pitches got away from him, but for the most part, he was very pitch-efficient and effective.”

Meyer worked with pitching coach Charles Nagy and special assistant to the general manager Bud Black over the last few days to move his arm slot higher, closer to where it was when he pitched in college at Kentucky. Meyer watched his younger self on YouTube in an effort to match that same delivery.

“We kind of just tried to pick some things from back then and work on trying to stay a little bit taller on the mound and keep my arm slot up a little bit,” Meyer said. “It was a good change today.”

It led to the success Meyer was seeking.

“It was awesome, it’s something that you think about for a long time,” Meyer said. “I don’t want to say it gets a monkey off your back, but to be able to get that is pretty special. I can’t really put it into words but it was a fun day.”

Marcus Stroman (9-9) went six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits, walking two and striking out three.

Toronto left seven on base and was a combined 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position in the last two games. However, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said there’s no reason to panic. It was simply two off days for the offense.

“There’s not a guy out in that room that’s not busting his (butt) trying to come through,” Gibbons said. “If it was that easy to hit, more people would be doing it. They’re competing, we’re just coming up short.”

The game was delayed for 13 minutes in the bottom of the third inning due to bees on the field.

Stroman allowed runs in the second and fourth innings before Joe Biagini gave up two in the seventh inning.

Trout went from first to third on Pujols’ single in the seventh and came home on C.J. Cron’s sacrifice fly. After Andrelton Simmons walked, Rafael Ortega’s flare dropped into shallow left field for a single. Ortega advanced to second on the throw and scored Pujols from third base to cap the scoring.