Trout finding success by attacking first pitches
ANAHEIM -- In the first inning of the Angels' crushing 5-3 loss to the Astros on Sunday afternoon, Mike Trout hit a home run. That shouldn't seem too unusual for the star center fielder -- he's hit 35 of them this season -- but the circumstances were.
Trout jumped on a first-pitch, knee-high fastball from Houston starter Mike Fiers, driving it over the bullpens in left field. Trout rarely swings at first pitches, and this season, he's rarely hit them well. Entering Sunday's game, Trout had swung at just 60 first pitches in 590 plate appearances this season, hitting .150 (3-for-20) when he put them in play. He hadn't homered on a first pitch since 2013.
But on Sunday, he did. Trout also doubled on a first pitch from Will Harris in the seventh inning of Saturday's 3-2 Angels win.
"It's just trying to see a good pitch and put a good swing on it," Trout said. "That's the way it is."
Even if he's not planning on suddenly adopting a more aggressive, first-pitch-swinging approach, Trout's looked better at the plate the last few days against the Astros than he did for much of August. He wasn't just attacking first pitches -- he was also driving the ball to left field, which he struggled to do during his August slump.
Trout had been having issues with his front-foot timing, which, if he was getting his foot down too late in his stride, might have been affecting his ability to hit the ball hard to left. His home run off Fiers was his first to left field since July. His double off Harris was lined into the left-center-field gap. And in Friday's series opener, Trout lined out to the wall in left-center off Astros ace Dallas Keuchel.
That he's starting to pull the ball with authority is encouraging, and could be an indicator that he's getting his timing right. Trout's home run on Sunday and the lineout on Saturday were two of his three farthest-hit balls to the pull side of the diamond since the beginning of August.
"Just getting my foot down and barreling it up, not trying to do too much," Trout said. "I felt good at the plate today, I felt good at the plate yesterday, so it's a step in the right direction."