Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout entered his team’s three-game series in Seattle mired in a 2-for-19 slump with no extra-base hits, no RBIs and seven strikeouts in his previous five games.
Consider that mini-slump a thing of the past.
Trout has homered twice in each of the first two games of the series heading into the finale Wednesday afternoon. That has boosted his MLB-leading total to 23 for the season.
He also made a leaping catch at the wall in right-center field Tuesday night to rob the Mariners’ Nelson Cruz of extra bases.
“They have a pretty good player on their team and you saw that again tonight,” Mariners manager Scott Servais deadpanned. “Mr. Trout is giving me and our pitching coach [headaches]. He’s really tough to pitch to. Some of the pitches [Tuesday] were where you want to throw them.”
An injury nearly interrupted Trout’s power surge.
After homering in the first inning Monday, Trout fouled a ball off his left shin in his next at-bat. X-rays proved negative and he remained in the game to hit another ball over the wall at Safeco Field.
“It’s all right. Sore,” Trout told MLB.com after Monday’s game. “We got precautionary X-rays, but there wasn’t a break or anything like that, so that’s always good news. It just hit me in a good spot, missed the [shin] guard. It happens. Obviously, it’s going to be sore once the adrenaline from the game stops. It just went numb for a little bit. Just got to monitor it, keep icing it and get the swelling out.”
Remarkably, Trout’s four homers over the past two nights haven’t translated into victories.
Cruz homered twice Monday as the Mariners won the opener 5-3, and Mitch Haniger and Ryon Healy both hit homers in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory for the home team.
“We’re not swinging the bats as a team,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “It puts our pitchers under a lot of pressure to make pitches. And any mistakes we had [Tuesday] they hit out of the park. Give those guys some credit, but one guy can’t carry you. Mike is swinging the bat very well, but we need some other guys to step up.”
The task of keeping Trout in the ballpark on Wednesday falls to Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (7-3, 3.28 ERA), who has allowed just three earned runs over his past five starts.
Gonzales doesn’t have a decision in three career starts against Los Angeles with a 4.40 ERA. He pitched six innings against the Angels on May 5, allowing four runs on nine hits with one walk and seven strikeouts in a game the Mariners won 9-8 in 11 innings.
The Angels will counter with right-hander Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.26 ERA), who hasn’t won since beating the Mariners 5-0 on May 4 when he allowed just four hits in 6 2/3 innings with one walk and eight strikeouts.
Since then, Richards is 0-3 despite giving up no more than three earned runs in any of his six starts.
Richards is 6-4 with a 2.91 ERA in 19 career appearances against the Mariners, including 11 starts.