Halos bank on 'crazy' outfield depth vs. Cubs

Trout-Rengifo-Moniak trio powers Angels on offense and defense

June 8th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- It was "no Hunter Renfroe or Taylor Ward, no problem" for the Angels on Wednesday night.

With Renfroe on the paternity list and Ward out with an illness, the outfield trio of , and combined to drive in all six runs of a 6-2 win over the Cubs at Angel Stadium.

Trout crushed a solo homer in the fourth, Rengifo went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs and Moniak ripped a three-run double in a decisive sixth-inning rally.

Trout and Moniak also made several key defensive plays, as Trout made a snow-cone grab at the wall in the fourth and back-to-back running catches in the seventh, while Moniak went into the stands for a highlight-reel catch to end the third and added a sliding grab in the eighth.

“The outfield depth in this organization right now is crazy,” Moniak said. “You've got me, Ward, Renfroe, Rengifo, Mike Trout and now we have Jo [Adell] here. It's just a testament to the talent that we've got in this organization in the outfield. It’s not like there’s a hole in the lineup if somebody goes down. Everybody can step in and perform and help the team win in their own specific ways.”

Trout was the only regular in the outfield on Wednesday, but there was nothing regular about his solo blast in the fourth off right-hander Jameson Taillon. Trout lifted a sweeper to right field and it kept carrying over the wall for his 14th homer of the year.

He’s starting to shake off his recent funk, as he’s been squaring up some balls recently and finally getting something to show for his effort.

“You don’t see too many guys hit balls like that,” manager Phil Nevin said. “How short his swing is, you usually need to see a guy with a lot of leverage to get into a ball that way. But his swing path stays the same, whether it’s in or out. That’s why he’s one of the best.”

It was just Rengifo’s eighth start of the season in the outfield, a move necessitated by Ward’s illness and Adell arriving to the park too close to game time after catching a last-minute flight from Triple-A Salt Lake to spell Renfroe on his paternity leave.

The mix is likely to look different on Thursday, as Adell is expected to make his season debut against lefty Drew Smyly and Ward is also likely to return if he's feeling better.

Rengifo, though, made the most of his rare start in left and came through with a game-tying solo homer off Taillon in the fifth after Jaime Barria gave up two runs in the top of the inning. Rengifo jumped all over a first-pitch fastball to open the frame for a home run projected at 427 feet, tied for the third longest in his career.

He was aggressive again in the sixth, giving the Angels the lead with a two-out, go-ahead RBI single. This time, he smacked a first-pitch curveball from reliever Mark Leiter Jr. It was another sign he’s starting to come around offensively, as he’s batting .438 (7-for-16) in five games in June after entering the month batting .199 through his first 47 games.

“I’ve been staying positive every time and being aggressive,” Rengifo said. “Every time you go up there, you have to do your job. Today, I swung at the first pitches and it worked out really well for me.”

After Rengifo’s single,  drew a walk to load the bases for Moniak, who again impressed in a key situation. Moniak found himself in a two-strike count but was able to lace a 2-2 splitter up in the zone for a three-run double to cap the four-run frame.

Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, has done nothing but show he belongs in the big leagues since his callup in mid-May, as he’s hit .304/.339/.643 with four homers, five doubles and 10 RBIs in 16 games, while playing excellent defense.

And he’s been able to stay locked in despite seeing Ward get more playing time recently, which has been just as impressive.

“I just think [hitting coaches Marcus] Thames and [Phil] Plantier have been awesome,” Moniak said. “I think that they do a really good job of making sure that I stay locked in, whether I'm on the bench or looking at the scouting reports for the bullpen in case I pinch-hit. And making sure I use the velo machine so that my timing is right. The swing has felt great and I have the confidence to know that I’ll be in the right spot even if I haven’t played in four days.”