Trout cements place as all-time tormenter of M's
ANAHEIM -- It's safe to say Angels superstar Mike Trout enjoys hitting against the Mariners.
Trout went 2-for-3 with a triple and a home run in a 4-3 loss to the Mariners in Friday’s series opener at Angel Stadium. It was his 53rd career homer against the AL West rival, which passed Rafael Palmeiro to become the all-time leader. The big fly was also Trout's 99th career extra-base hit against the Mariners and again passed Palmeiro for the all-time record.
"Tonight's the best I've felt over the last week," said Trout, who has six homers over his last eight games. "If I'm able to get to a ball and barrel it up, it means I'm in a good spot. I saw that [I passed Palmeiro] and it's pretty cool. But we lost, so it's tough."
Trout, a three-time AL MVP and nine-time All-Star, homered five times in five games against the Mariners last weekend to help the Angels win four of five games at T-Mobile Park. His latest homer came in the fourth inning off Mariners starter Chris Flexen on a 2-2 fastball that was crushed to center field. It left the bat at 105.1 mph and went a projected 422 feet, per Statcast.
"That's my approach, trying to hit the ball to center field,” Trout said. “You have to have an approach at the plate, and that's mine.”
It was Trout’s team-leading 22nd homer of the year, which puts him in a tie for second in the Majors with the Astros' Yordan Alvarez. The Yankees’ Aaron Judge leads with 27.
Trout added an RBI triple -- the 11th of his career vs. Seattle, tying Hall of Famer George Brett for the most against the Mariners -- in the sixth inning against Flexen. It was a 111.8 mph line drive to center field that Julio Rodríguez misplayed, as the ball spun off Trout’s bat and sailed over Rodríguez’s head after it veered to the left. Trout then scored on an RBI groundout from Shohei Ohtani to make it a one-run game.
“The ball he hit to center, I've never seen a ball do that,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “I've seen balls knuckleball, but this one just took off. I don't know if there's a center fielder who can make that play. How do you defend it? It just took off to the left there."
Trout is a career .327/.430/.676 hitter with 36 doubles and 131 RBIs in 173 games against the Mariners. For context, Palmeiro played in 216 games against Seattle, so Trout reached 53 homers against Seattle in 43 fewer games.
Among active players, only Trout's former teammate Albert Pujols has hit more than 53 homers against one team. Pujols has 62 career blasts against the Astros and 57 against the Cubs.
The MLB record for home runs against one opponent is Hall of Famer Babe Ruth's 123 against the Tigers, which came when there were only eight teams in the American League and no Interleague play. Among more recent players, Barry Bonds hit 87 long balls against the Padres, while Alex Rodriguez went deep 70 times against the Angels.
The Mariners, though, eventually wised up and intentionally walked Trout with one out in the eighth inning after reliever Andrés Muñoz fell behind with a 3-0 count. It was the 112th career intentional walk for Trout, which tied him with Vladimir Guerrero for the most all-time with the Angels. The decision worked out for Seattle, as Ohtani and Jared Walsh both struck out to leave Trout stranded at first base. It marked the first time the Mariners had intentionally walked Trout since Aug. 18, 2016.
"He gets walked in that situation with a righty [on the mound and Ohtani due up],” Nevin said. “It's just Trouty and how good he is."
Trout said he didn’t think much of getting intentionally walked and had confidence in Ohtani, who had eight RBIs on Tuesday and was 1-for-2 with a hard-hit single and a walk before striking out.
"You just pass the baton,” Trout said. “Ohtani has been hot, but he just came up short."
Mariners manager Scott Servais said Muñoz didn’t want to give Trout something to hit, so Servais called for the intentional pass after the right-hander fell behind.
“We've learned a little bit,” said Servais. “I think Muñoz did a nice job working around the edges, and then we fell behind in the count and just put him on base to make the other two guys get us."