MLB news: Harper and Trout square off, Mejia shines (again) for the Mets

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels snuck by the Nationals in Trout vs. Harper Round 1 on Monday night, while Jenrry Mejia continued his strong start to the season for the Mets. Out west, the A's and Rangers opened up their first series of the season.

If you wanted Bryce Harper and Mike Trout to square off in a battle for the ages on Monday night, chances are you were disappointed. Harper and Trout combined for two singles and a walk in eight at-bats during their first matchup (with both the hits coming off Trout's bat), as the Angels topped the Nationals, 4-2.

The night's real hero turned out to be pinch hitter Raul Ibanez, who broke open a tie game in the top of the eighth inning with a three-run double off Washington's Tyler Clippard. Ibanez's big hit was the decisive blow in a game that saw starters Garrett Richards and Tanner Roark surrender just one run between them over the first six innings.

Ultimately, the Angels claimed a win on a night heavily overshadowed by the Trout-Harper narrative. Although neither of the two youngsters excelled on Monday, we have the good fortune as baseball fans to see Trout and Harper face off over the next two nights (and to continually wow us into the next decade).

Mejia continues strong April in outing against Cards

The Mets almost chose to begin the season with Jenrry Mejia down in Triple-A and Daisuke Matsuzaka in their major league rotation. Thanks to Mejia's strong April, though, the Mets are looking smarter and smarter for resisting such a move.

The right-hander further burnished his credentials Monday night in an impressive outing against the Cardinals at Citi Field. Mejia held St. Louis scoreless over 6⅔ innings, striking out seven batters and allowing just four hits, as the Mets beat the Cardinals, 2-0.

The 24-year-old's strong start comes just after an appearance in which Mejia held the Diamondbacks to two hits over five innings before leaving the game early with a torn blister. Through four April starts, the Dominican Republic native now has a 1.99 ERA with 25 strikeouts and 14 walks.

Mejia's success to begin 2014 isn't entirely surprising, as he also impressed during a five-start cameo in 2013 in which the right-hander struck out 27 batters and walked just four in 27 innings. That Mejia has been able to build upon that positive stretch this season is an encouraging development for the Mets.

A's and Rangers begin showdown out west

Given Oakland's fast start and the early struggles of the Rangers and Angels, the A's looked primed to build a large lead in the AL West not too long ago. After winning seven of their last 10 games, however, the Rangers quickly climbed back into the mix leading up to their series in Oakland beginning Monday. Now after a 4-3 victory, Texas is just 1.5 games back.

Winners of two straight division titles and owners of an MLB-best plus-31 run differential, the A's look like the real deal once again. Texas' credentials, on the other hand, are a little less certain, especially with all the injuries to the club's pitching staff.

With Yu Darvish on the mound, Texas was hoping to start off on the right foot, and a lead-off home run from Shin-Soo Choo didn't hurt. Oakland quickly jumped on Darvish, though, scoring three runs and forcing the right-hander to throw 52 pitches in the first two innings. Coco Crisp proved his usual pesky self, notching two hits, two stolen bases and two RBI at the top of Oakland's order.

Texas went ahead 4-3 in the eighth inning when Kevin Kouzmanoff doubled then was driven in by a Donnie Murphy single. Sean Doolittle was tagged with the loss.

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