Trout gets 10th HR; La Stella hits walk-off

August 18th, 2020

The Angels’ much-needed comeback win over the Giants featured a few firsts, as superstar became the first player in the Majors to reach 10 homers and hit his first career walk-off blast in a 7-6 victory in the series opener on Monday night at Angel Stadium.

Trout hit his American League-leading 10th homer in the third off lefty Tyler Anderson but La Stella’s came when it mattered most with a two-run shot off Trevor Gott with one out in the ninth. La Stella’s homer came after a single from David Fletcher and helped snap the club’s four-game losing streak. La Stella jumped all over a 1-2 curveball for his second homer of the year and his first walk-off homer since he was 7 years old.

“It’s huge,” La Stella said of the win. “It's been tough as of late. It feels kind of like we haven't all been clicking at the same time yet. But this is a great team and these guys are resilient. We've been pushing through it. So hopefully this is the start of something."

La Stella, 31, has also been proving that last year wasn't a fluke, when he was an All-Star for the first time and hit .295/.346/.486 in 80 games. This year, La Stella has a similar slash line of .290/.383/.464 and is hitting second in the lineup.

“What he's doing right now is not a huge surprise to me,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon, who managed La Stella with the Cubs from 2015-18. “I've seen it. The at-bats are as good as you've seen.”

Trout has also been on fire since missing four games to attend the birth of his first child, Beckham, on July 30. Since returning on Aug. 4, Trout has hit nine homers over his last 13 games. The three-time AL MVP has joked that the birth of his son has given him “dad strength.”

But his lead atop the Major League leaderboard for homers was short-lived. The Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr. later joined Trout in the 10-homer club on Monday with a two-run shot in the seventh inning of a game vs. the Rangers. Tatis then passed Trout with a grand slam in the eighth.

Trout’s 10th homer came on a first-pitch fastball from Anderson, which is rare for Trout, who almost never swings at the first pitch. Of Trout’s 295 career homers, only 25 have come on first pitches. The homer left the bat at 106.3 mph and went a projected 404 feet to right-center, per Statcast.

His 10 homers through the season's first 23 games also established an Angels franchise record. Trout was one of four players who previously held the record with nine, which he did in 2018. Trout also leads the Angels with 20 RBIs and has 16 over his last 13 games. His homer tied the game at 2-2 with two outs in the third.

The Angels took the lead with a three-run fifth inning, keyed by an RBI ground-rule double from Anthony Rendon and a two-run double off the left-field wall from Albert Pujols. Pujols just missed reaching career homer No. 660, which would tie him with Hall of Famer Willie Mays.

“Albert almost did it,” Maddon said. “Just hit the middle of the wall. But a lot of good things happened tonight.”

But in a familiar theme, the bullpen couldn't hold the lead before La Stella’s heroics. Lefty Hoby Milner allowed a single to Pablo Sandoval and walked Brandon Crawford with one out in the sixth. Noé Ramirez came in and gave up a single to load the bases and couldn't escape the jam. He surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly from Chadwick Tromp before giving up a two-run double to Mike Yastrzemski with two outs on a 2-2 changeup.

But relievers Mike Mayers, Felix Peña and Ty Buttrey combined to throw 3 1/3 scoreless innings to keep the Angels in the game and give La Stella a chance in the ninth.

“The relievers at the end of the game permitted this to happen,” Maddon said. “We need more of that; we need a lot more of that. On the field I thought the guys battled great all night."