Trout off to historic start with 6th home run

April 10th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- The homers keep coming for early this season.

Trout set a club record on Tuesday, becoming the fastest player in franchise history to reach six homers to start a season, getting to the mark in just 11 games. He crushed a two-run blast in the first inning, giving him a homer in three straight games, but it wasn’t enough in a 6-4 loss to the Rays at Angel Stadium.

“When they’ve been making mistakes, he's been making them pay,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “And even in his second at-bat, he just missed one. He hung a breaking ball but he just didn’t get there. But he’s swinging the bat well.”

The offense was otherwise held in check by Rays right-hander Aaron Civale, while lefty had trouble with his control and allowed four runs on six hits and three walks over five innings.

Trout, though, stayed hot with his two-run shot and is off to a blistering start, slashing .293/.370/.780 with six homers, a triple and eight RBIs. His six homers are tied for the Major League lead with Boston’s Tyler O’Neill, who homered three times against the Angels over the weekend.

It’s a good sign for the Angels, as Trout was limited to 82 games last year because of a fractured left hamate suffered on a swing on July 3 and hit .263/.367/.490 with 18 homers and 44 RBIs – a down year by his standards, with his career slash line at .301/.412/.583.

But any concerns that Trout had lost a step because of injuries in recent seasons has been put to bed. Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 11-time All-Star, looks like his former self and has been sporting one of the best contact rates of his career. He’s also been more aggressive on the bases, as evidenced by his two stolen bases, which matches his total from last year.

Trout’s two-run shot came on a 2-2 sinker left over the middle of the plate by Civale and went a projected 397 feet to left-center field. It gave the Angels an early lead, but that was short-lived, as Sandoval had an uneven outing and promptly gave up two runs in the second.

“He just couldn’t command the fastball and didn’t have any consistency with his offspeed,” Washington said. “But it’s still early. He’s healthy and there’s nothing wrong with him. He just has to command the baseball more frequently.”

Sandoval walked Curtis Mead to lead off the second before giving up an RBI double to Jose Siri on a 3-2 fastball in the heart of the zone. Mead was originally ruled out at home on the play, as Trout and shortstop Luis Rengifo both made strong throws, but after a review it was determined catcher Logan O’Hoppe didn’t get the tag down in time.

It was a tough break for Sandoval, as José Caballero followed with an RBI single on a 2-0 fastball to tie the game at 2-2 in another case of Sandoval falling behind a hitter and paying for it.

“You have to get ahead,” Sandoval said. “You have to try to get to two strikes as quick as possible. But I just didn’t execute today.”

Tampa Bay took the lead in the fourth with two runs, as Sandoval walked Siri to open the frame before giving up the go-ahead run on an RBI double from Caballero on an 0-2 changeup left up in the zone. Sandoval looked like he’d escape without further damage when he induced a high flyball down the right-field line from Harold Ramirez with two outs, but Mickey Moniak couldn’t handle it for what was originally ruled an error but later changed to a hit, and Caballero came around to score.

The Angels were helped by a miscue by the Rays in the bottom of the inning when Caballero booted a routine grounder by Nolan Schanuel, allowing a run to score. But that was all the Angels could muster offensively until a late rally in the ninth fell short with pinch-hitter Miguel Sanó striking out looking with two runners on to end it.

“There’s never any quit in those guys,” Washington said. “Even though it was Miguel against a right-hander, I thought it was the right matchup. From my vantage point, he left two balls up and I wish he would’ve took his chances. With how strong he is, something big may have happened.”