In a 14-year career with the Angels, Tim Salmon set numerous club records and was affectionately known by fans as “Mr. Angel” or “King Fish.”
But Salmon is no longer all alone as the Angels’ home run king, as Mike Trout tied him with career homer No. 299 off Astros right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. in the first inning of a 6-5 win in 11 innings keyed by Shohei Ohtani's first walk-off hit on Friday night at Angel Stadium. The two-run shot was Trout’s 14th of the season, which is tied for the Major League lead with the Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. Trout's 299th career blast came in his 10th season with the Angels and in his 1,234th game. Salmon played 1,672 games with the Angels.
Trout, a three-time American League MVP and eight-time All-Star, has forged a friendship with Salmon, who is an analyst for FOX Sports West, and Trout said it’s an honor to be mentioned with him. Salmon was at the ballpark on Friday and served as the guest play-by-play announcer for the rest of Trout’s at-bats after his homer in the first.
"Tying Tim Salmon, he's one of the best Angels of all-time. He's Mr. Angel," Trout said. "What he brought to the club every day, being in the same category as him and having fish last names, it's pretty cool. Hopefully, we get to 300 soon here, but it’s a pretty cool accomplishment."
Angels manager Joe Maddon also has history with Salmon, as Maddon was with the Angels’ organization and was involved in signing Salmon after he was drafted in 1986.
“Nobody would be happier for Michael than Timothy,” Maddon said. “I think it's great. This is just the beginning for Mike, but I'm very happy to have been affiliated with both these guys. It's pretty cool, right? I actually was in the living room with Timmy when he signed. I was one of the signing scouts, and I get to work with Mike Trout, so I'm a pretty lucky guy.”
Trout’s homer was part of a three-run first inning for the Angels, who knocked McCullers from the game before he recorded an out. The early push provided a cushion for right-hander Dylan Bundy, who turned in yet another strong outing, allowing two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts over seven innings. His ERA now sits at 2.49, but he was saddled with a no-decision after the bullpen blew a three-run lead in the ninth, with all three runs getting charged to Ty Buttrey.
Bundy was nearly removed during a two-run fourth inning and was visibly frustrated when he saw some stirring in the bullpen, but he settled down from there.
“I don’t want to repeat what I said again on camera,” Bundy said. “It motivates you. You see the bullpen up in the fourth inning as a starter and you're not happy, especially with the pitch count. It fired me up. But who knows, maybe I needed it."
After watching the lead slip away in the ninth, the Angels won in walk-off fashion in the 11th, with Ohtani lacing an RBI single to right to score Trout, who started the inning as the automatic runner on second base. Ohtani said he slightly tweaked his stance during the game, standing up more in the box, and he believes it helped him deliver the game-winning hit against Brooks Raley.
"I'm obviously satisfied with the results, but I was more satisfied by the way I felt at the plate my last two at-bats,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I think if I can continue that, keep that going then things will turn around."