Trout makes Gray, A's pay with big home run

April 12th, 2016

OAKLAND -- Sonny Gray's first pitch to Mike Trout in the sixth inning Monday came in at 93 mph, low, slightly inside and reasonably well-located, especially for the first pitch of an at-bat.

"I thought it was a good sinker," Gray said, "but it sunk a little too much and went right to his barrel."

The result in the series opener from the Coliseum between the Angels and A's, was one of the most impressive home runs of this young season. It sailed, almost on a line, beyond the "388" sign in left-center field and off the side of the bleachers that are stationed well beyond it.

It traveled roughly 430 feet, giving the Angels a three-run lead in an eventual 4-1 victory, and it went for Trout's first home run of 2016.

"Timing was right," said Trout, who finished the first week of the regular season with four hits and four walks in 25 plate appearances. "Where I get in trouble is when I don't get that foot down. Last couple games it's been coming back, my timing's been good. I feel better at the plate."

Trout has now homered three times off Gray, more than any other player in baseball. Only two others, Miguel Cabrera and Mitch Moreland, have even homered twice against the A's ace. Trout succeeds against basically every ace in the American League West, including the Mariners' Felix Hernandez (.354 career batting average) and the Astros' Dallas Keuchel (.323), but Gray had held him to five hits in 28 at-bats heading into this season.

"He's tough," Trout said. "It's a battle each and every pitch. It's just that one pitch you get, you can't miss it."

The pitch Trout didn't miss was the first one, and that is also significant.

Trout at times fights himself on the frequency with which he should attack first pitches. The 24-year-old center field put the first pitch in play only 26 times last year, fewer than 299 other players. He's done so only three times so far this year, but it's just enough to keep pitchers honest.

"I don't think Mike's doing anything different," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's jumped on first pitches before. When he feels it, he's aggressive. He put a good swing on it."