Oppo pop surprises hot-hitting Calhoun

June 7th, 2017

DETROIT -- has sprayed his 34 singles all around the field so far this season. But when he connects with power, he tends to be much more pull-happy. Until Tuesday, that is.

In the first inning of the Angels' 5-3 win over the Tigers at Comerica Park, the left-handed Calhoun reached out and poked a solo shot down the left-field line. He sprinted around first looking for at least a double, unaware that the ball had cleared the wall 345 feet from home plate before slowing up when he saw the umpire's signal for a home run.

"No, I didn't think it was gone," Calhoun said. "I thought it was a double for sure. I had to look at the third-base umpire and I was like, 'Ground-rule double? What happened?'"

The home run, hit on a 92.4-mph fastball from Detroit lefty , traveled a projected 352 feet and left the bat at 96 mph, according to Statcast™. Of Calhoun's nine home runs this season, it marked his first to the opposite field. It was also his shortest-projected distance and slowest off the bat.

Calhoun now has 18 career first-inning home runs, the most in any frame. He finished the game 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs. Calhoun is on a seven-game hit streak, with a .478 (11-for-23) batting average, four home runs and seven RBIs during that span.

"Kole's last 20 at-bats have been what we expect to see," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's taking his walks, he's hitting the ball all over the ballpark, had some big hits for us tonight."

Calhoun was his usual defensively stout self on Tuesday, tracking a hard-hit liner off the bat of and catching a fly ball on the warning track. But while the Angels typically rely on a steady glove from the 2015 American League Gold Glove Award winner, his offense has been less consistent this season.

The 29-year-old posted a .158 average in 27 games in May, striking out 26 times versus 16 hits. Now on a hitting streak and sneaking in some opposite-field power, Calhoun is showing signs of turning around his plate production.

"There were mechanical adjustments that he'd tried along the way," Scioscia said of Calhoun's May struggles. "He was really jumpy at the plate, expanding the zone, definitely not seeing the ball as well as he needed to. And he's worked on it. I think it's just been an evolution where now he's started to feel more comfortable."

Calhoun has hit out of his month-long slump. But while stats suggest he's more comfortable at the plate, his mindset remains unchanged.

"The great thing about this game is you keep getting opportunities," Calhoun said. "Got another game tomorrow. So when you're struggling, you kinda keep going pitch by pitch and day by day."