Trout sets tone with HR, but small ball wins day for Angels

Sierra lays down excellent safety squeeze for walk-off in 10th inning

September 7th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- The Angels showed off their power with three home runs, including superstar going deep for a third straight game to reach 31 blasts on the season.

But in the end, it was a walk-off safety squeeze bunt from that proved to be the difference in a 5-4 win over the Tigers in 10 innings on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

Interim manager Phil Nevin said the three homers set the tone in the early stages of the game, but it was ultimately his call to go with the safety squeeze with the speedy Sierra up in a tie game with runners at first and third with one out.

"Any time one of your big guys gets you out to a jump like that, it kind of shoots energy throughout the whole dugout, and Mike going deep there in the first and getting a couple in the second as well did that," Nevin said. "The safety [squeeze] was more to look at the infield and if they're crashing, swing, but he dropped down a great bunt. Magneuris works on his bunting every day.”

It was the first walk-off hit for Sierra in his career and was an example of early work paying off, as Trout said he saw Sierra working on his bunting before batting practice and noted it was a case of preparing for good results.

"I feel more than happy because it was something I'd never experienced before,” Sierra said through an interpreter. “I feel very fortunate. I practice my bunts a lot because it has helped me throughout my career."

Trout also continued to prove he's just fine after missing a little more than a month with an upper back/rib cage injury that kept him out of action from July 13-Aug. 18.

He’s looked like his old self since his return, and he showed it yet again with his solo homer in the first inning. Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 10-time All-Star, has batted .299/.347/.642 with seven homers, two doubles and 10 RBIs in 17 games since his stint on the injured list.

Trout, who reached the 30-homer plateau for the seventh time in his career with a solo shot in Monday's 10-0 win, launched his 31st blast of the year in the first inning to give the Angels a quick lead. Trout ambushed lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, jumping all over a first-pitch fastball and depositing it a projected 414 feet over the center-field fence.

"I've been getting good pitches to hit and putting some good swings on them,” Trout said. “I'm starting to get some timing back. Still missing some pitches, but I've hit some balls hard."

Trout, who went 1-for-4 with two other deep drives to the outfield before striking out in the ninth, is batting .275/.364/.607 with 31 homers, 19 doubles and 61 RBIs in 96 games this season. His .971 OPS is just under his career OPS of 1.000.

His homer set the tone for the offense early, as and connected on back-to-back blasts in the second inning, giving the Angels three homers through their first eight batters of the game. It was also the third time this season the Angels hit consecutive homers in a game.

It was the third homer in 12 games with the Angels for Ford, who has impressed during his stint at first base with Jared Walsh out for the season with thoracic outlet syndrome. Ford launched a 2-0 fastball above the zone over the right-field fence for his 20th career homer. It was Ford’s ninth career homer off a lefty, as he’s actually fared better against southpaws than right-handers throughout his career despite batting left-handed.

"Ford has had some really good at-bats,” Nevin said. “He played today because he's always taken good at-bats against lefties. He really stays in there and I thought that was a good matchup for him."

Adell followed with an opposite-field shot to right on a 2-2 cutter from Rodriguez. It was the seventh homer of the year for Adell and his first since Aug. 26, when he went deep twice against the Blue Jays. It was also a good sign from him, as he was in a 1-for-16 slump over his last six games before the homer.

"I loved Jo's swing,” Nevin said. “He's been working on his swing and to get balls to that side of the field.”