'Complete team performance': Trout, Ward, Anderson have big nights

April 9th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- After a frustrating 2023, the Angels have no shortage of bounceback candidates this season.

But superstar , left fielder and left-hander have been off to hot starts and were key contributors in a 7-1 win over the Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. Trout jump-started the offense with an RBI triple in the first and a solo shot in the third, falling a double short of the cycle, while Ward went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Anderson hurled seven-plus scoreless innings.

All three have something to prove, as Trout and Ward finished last season on the injured list, while Anderson had a rough first year with the club. It was a nice rebound from Sunday’s 12-2 loss to the Red Sox, and veteran is also starting to heat up after a slow start and picked up three hits.

“It was definitely a complete team performance,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “You find out the character of the people you're around when you get knocked down and then come back. That proves there is some character [in the] room.”

Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 11-time All-Star, has shown plenty of power this year, as he’s tied for the Major League lead with five homers through 10 games. But in the first inning, it was his speed on full display, as he laced an RBI triple to right field to score Rendon from first to give the Angels an early lead against the Rays and right-hander Zach Eflin.

It was the first triple of the year for Trout, which matched his total in 82 games last year. He fractured his left hamate in his wrist on a swing on July 3 and only played in one game the rest of the way. But this year, he’s talked about being more aggressive on the bases and he did just that with his triple before scoring on an RBI single from Ward. It was the 53rd career triple for Trout, which is tied for second in club history with Chone Figgins and trails only Jim Fregosi’s 70.

Trout followed it up with an absolute moonshot in the third, as he smashed a 92 mph fastball from Eflin a Statcast-projected 423 feet to center field. It was Trout's 14th career game with a homer and a triple, which ranks 16th all-time and third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Barry Bonds (17) and Billy Williams (15).

It was his fifth solo homer of 2024, as he’s yet to hit one with a runner on base and has six RBIs. He's slashing .297/.381/.757.

“He’s been awesome,” Washington said. “It’s coming together. We’re just looking for that consistency.”

Ward is coming off a scary injury that ended his '23 season, suffering facial fractures that required surgery when he was hit in the face by a fastball from Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah on July 29. But he’s been off to a blistering start, much like in 2022. He gave the Angels some insurance with a two-run single with two outs in the fifth inning against Eflin. Ward leads the team with 11 RBIs on the year and is batting .317 with three homers.

“We really played a solid ballgame,” Washington said. “We had some timely hitting.”

Anderson, meanwhile, built on his strong start in Miami that saw him open his season with seven scoreless innings. He matched that to become the first Angels pitcher to open a season with back-to-back outings of at least seven scoreless innings.

But he went back out for the eighth on 88 pitches and was removed after giving up a leadoff single to Jose Siri. Reliever Adam Cimber, however, came in and induced a double play to throw a scoreless frame.

It’s a strong start for Anderson, who posted a 5.43 ERA in 141 innings in 2023 after joining the club on a three-year deal worth $39 million. He’s looked more like the pitcher who registered a 2.57 ERA in 178 2/3 innings with the Dodgers in ‘22. He scattered just four hits and a walk while striking out three.

“That was great,” Anderson said. “We have a lot of great fans here and I didn’t pitch well for them last year. So to start off the year this way always feels good.”