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Trout ties MLB HR lead; Pujols gaining on Mays

@RhettBollinger
September 4, 2019

OAKLAND -- Even though the Angels have been scuffling for more than a month, the 2019 home run race featuring Mike Trout should be fun to watch down the stretch. Trout didn’t waste any time joining Cody Bellinger and Pete Alonso for the Major League lead with 44 homers on

OAKLAND -- Even though the Angels have been scuffling for more than a month, the 2019 home run race featuring Mike Trout should be fun to watch down the stretch.

Trout didn’t waste any time joining Cody Bellinger and Pete Alonso for the Major League lead with 44 homers on Tuesday, as he crushed the first pitch he saw from A’s right-hander Mike Fiers for a solo shot in the first inning of a 7-5 loss in the series opener. It’s a tight race that also features the Brewers’ Christan Yelich, who has 43 long balls on the year.

Box score

"I look at it, for sure,” Trout said of the home run leaderboard. “I can't tell you I go up there looking for a homer. It just happens. But I'm definitely aware where other guys are at. I'm obviously pulling for them. It's pretty cool down the stretch."

Trout, who hadn’t homered since Aug. 27, jumped all over an 87-mph fastball from Fiers that was right down the middle. It left the bat at 109.7 mph and went a projected 437 feet to left field, per Statcast.

Trout doesn’t usually swing at the first pitch, but when he does, he does plenty of damage. Trout has put the first pitch in play 42 times this season, hitting .476 with five homers and four doubles.

"Just getting a fastball and I didn't miss it,” Trout said. “Every time I face him, it's tough. He throws all his pitches for strikes. He goes up and down with the fastball.”

Trout, aiming for his third American League MVP Award, has already set a career high in homers, surpassing his previous high of 41 blasts set in 2015. The club record for homers is 47 by Troy Glaus in 2000. Trout has never finished a season leading the AL in homers but now leads the Royals’ Jorge Soler by five blasts.

Trout, though, lamented his chance to do further damage in the third, when he struck out with David Fletcher at first after a leadoff single. Trout fouled a 1-1 fastball over the middle from Fiers and then struck out on a slider away.

"I think I missed my pitch in my second at-bat,” said Trout, who went 1-for-3 with a walk. “He threw me a good slider. Guys like that, you can't miss your pitch. We had opportunities to get a lead but we just fell short."

Pujols hits No. 654

Albert Pujols also homered for the Angels, giving him 21 on the season and 654 in his career. It moved him within six homers of Hall of Famer Willie Mays, who ranks fifth on the all-time home run list with 660. Pujols’ shot came in the third on an 0-1 fastball on the inner half of the plate.

Pujols has been on a hot streak recently, hitting .400 (8-for-20) with two homers and eight RBIs over his last four games. Pujols, 39, is hitting .285/.331/.490 with eight homers and 39 RBIs in 39 games in the second half. His 39 RBIs lead the club since the All-Star break.

“He’s been great,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.