Another birthday, another homer for Trout

August 8th, 2020

Angels superstar is special on just about any day of the season, but he has a particular penchant for playing well on his birthday.

Trout homered again on his 29th birthday on Friday, giving him five career birthday homers, which leads all active players and ties the Major League record for a player before they turn 30. Alex Rodriguez also hit five birthday homers before he turned 30. The MLB record is six birthday homers, set by Mark Reynolds and Rodriguez. But the homer came in a 4-3 loss for the scuffling Angels, who fell to 5-9 on the year.

Trout nearly homered again with two outs in the ninth inning on a 97 mph fastball from Rafael Montero, but it went foul and he struck out on the next pitch to end the game.

"The last one should have hit the fair pole, right?" Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "The moment he hit it, you could see it was going to be just foul. It was definitely far enough, but it didn’t start out enough in play."

Trout, a three-time American League MVP and eight-time All-Star, has been on fire since the birth of his first child, Beckham Aaron, on July 30, and stayed hot with a two-run shot off Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles in the first inning. It was Trout’s fourth homer in four games since missing four games to attend his child’s birth.

Trout’s team-leading fifth blast was crushed to left-center field, leaving the bat at 109.7 mph and going a projected 444 feet, per Statcast. It came on a 1-0 fastball over the middle of the plate.

Including the two-run homer and a base hit in the seventh, in seven career games on his birthday, Trout is hitting .333 (9-for-27) with five homers, a double and seven RBIs. Trout now has 290 career homers, which is nine away from tying Tim Salmon's club record.

“That first ball was crushed -- a line drive to center,” Maddon said. “Obviously he's getting on top of his swing right now. He's looking really good at the plate. I imagine this should continue. I heard all the stories about his birthday and he came through once again, so that was pretty neat."

Earlier in the day, Trout’s wife, Jessica, tweeted a touching post for Trout’s birthday, including a picture of their newborn child.

Trout is also fourth all-time in Wins Above Replacement at the time of a 29th birthday, as his 73.1 WAR trails only Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby and Mickey Mantle, per Baseball-Reference.com.

Trout’s first-inning homer wasn’t enough, however, as right-hander uncharacteristically struggled with his control. He walked six over over 3 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (one earned) on three hits.

“Just kind of one of those nights where I didn't have my release point,” Canning said. “Didn't really get in any type of rhythm. That's pretty much it, pretty simple."

Canning’s troubles were magnified in the fourth, when Tommy La Stella made a critical error with two on and one out on a potential double-play ball hit by Isiah Kiner-Falefa. It loaded the bases, and Canning walked in a run before his errant pickoff throw to second that went into the outfield brought home another run. He was lifted for reliever Mike Mayers, who promptly hit Nick Solak with a pitch to bring home the go-ahead run.

It was an ugly inning for the Angels, who also went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position, including leaving the bases loaded in the seventh inning. Shohei Ohtani and Anthony Rendon combined to go 0-for-7, while catcher Jason Castro was ejected in the second inning for arguing a check swing call.

“We did have some walks, a hit batter and two errors,” Maddon said. “It is frustrating, no question, but I thought definitely an opportunity to come back. We just didn't take advantage of situations.

“Errors occur in this game. I'm never going to be upset with the guys taking a shot like on that pick off where a pitcher is struggling a bit, and you catch a runner napping possibly, I'm all for it, especially with the bases loaded. We just did not execute up to our abilities tonight.”