ANAHEIM -- There was no other player the Angels would have rather had up to bat in that situation.Down by one run in the fifth inning, the Angels had loaded the bases with one out against D-backs right-hander Matt Koch, bringing Michael Trout to the plate. Arizona pitching coach Mike
ANAHEIM -- There was no other player the Angels would have rather had up to bat in that situation.
Down by one run in the fifth inning, the Angels had loaded the bases with one out against D-backs right-hander Matt Koch, bringing Michael Trout to the plate. Arizona pitching coach Mike Butcher jogged out to the mound to briefly strategize with Koch, but his counsel proved of little use against Trout, who promptly lined a first-pitch fastball to center field for a bases-clearing single that helped lift the Angels to a 5-4 win over the D-backs on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.
"We have to be more than Mike," manager Mike Scioscia said, "but believe me, that's a situation we love to have him swinging the bat."
The game-deciding hit was the centerpiece to the latest in another stunning Trout performance. He reached base in all four plate appearances, also walking twice and even getting to first on a catcher's interference.
Widely regarded as the best player in baseball, Trout's production has surged to an otherworldly level over the last week. He has recorded only seven outs over his last 37 plate appearances (.778 OBP), batting .696 (16-for-23) with four home runs, nine RBIs, 11 walks (four intentional) and one hit-by-pitch. In addition to leading the Majors with 23 home runs and a 1.158 OPS, Trout also has more walks (64) than strikeouts (60) this season.
"I'm just trying to look for my pitch, and if it's not there, I'm just taking my walks," Trout said. "For me, if I try to expand the strike zone, that's when I get in trouble."
Already a two-time MVP winner at age 26, Trout is currently on pace for a 14.4 WAR season, which would break Babe Ruth's 95-year-old record (14.1 in 1923) for the greatest individual season in MLB history.
"This is not an easy game, and this guy makes it look easier and easier every year," right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "It's a special talent that we're not going to see too many times, so enjoy it now."
Ian Kinsler and Calhoun each added solo home runs, and Felix Pena delivered four solid innings in his first MLB start to help the Angels (39-35) snap a three-game skid and secure a split of their two-game Interleague series with the D-backs.
The Angels' beleaguered bullpen bent but didn't break in the ninth inning, as Richard Parker yielded a two-run home run to Paul Goldschmidt that brought the D-backs within one, but Jake Lamb subsequently flew out to end the game. Parker secured the final six outs of the game to pick up his eighth save of the year.
All 38 of Pena's previous MLB outings had come in relief, but the Angels decided to convert him to a starter this season and inserted him into their rotation following the injuries to Garrett Richards and Nick Tropeano. The 28-year-old right-hander had not pitched since June 8 at any level, but he made the most of his opportunity on Tuesday, yielding one run on two hits while walking three and striking out six.
"Starting isn't the same as relieving, but I didn't feel any different," Pena said in Spanish. "I just went out on the mound and gave it my best."
In the first inning, Pena gave up a leadoff single to Jonathan Jay, who advanced to second on a wild pitch before taking third on another single by Jake Lamb. The D-backs got on the board after Jay scored on a forceout by David Peralta, but Pena then struck out Daniel Descalso to end the inning.
Kinsler countered by blasting Koch's third pitch of the game into the Angels' bullpen in left field for his 10th home run of the season, tying the game, 1-1. It was the 48th leadoff home run of Kinsler's career, which ranks fourth all-time.
Pena maneuvered through traffic over the next three innings, but he avoided further damage and departed after throwing 74 pitches.
"The walks kind of got in the way a little bit, got his pitch count up, but I thought Felix was fine," Scioscia said. "He used all his pitches, had good movement on his fastball, good life. He got us to a certain point in the game. We were hoping he could get maybe into the fifth, but the pitch count was getting up there a little bit for where he's been."
Left-hander Jose Alvarez took over in the fifth and retired the first two batters he faced, but Lamb then worked a walk during an 11-pitch at-bat and scored on Peralta's ensuing double to give the D-backs a 2-1 lead.
The Angels rallied in the fifth after Koch drilled Martin Maldonado and Kinsler and David Fletcher singled to load the bases with one out, setting up Trout's two-run single. Another run scored after Ketel Marte missed Jarrod Dyson's relay throw, allowing the Angels to build a 4-2 lead.
"I wasn't trying to do too much, and I got a base hit," Trout said.
Calhoun capped the Angels' offensive output with a solo home run off Koch in the sixth, collecting his second homer of the season and his first since Opening Day. Calhoun, who was batting just .145 before landing on the disabled list, is now 3-for-7 in his first two games since returning from injury.
"I was working on some things," Calhoun said. "It's nice to see it carry over right now."
Chris Young, who started in center field on Tuesday, departed the game after six innings with a hamstring injury. Scioscia said Young sustained the injury while running to first base in the sixth inning and will be re-evaluated on Wednesday's off-day.
"Hopefully it won't keep him out too long," Scioscia said.
The Angels will enjoy an off-day on Wednesday before opening a four-game series against the Blue Jays on Thursday at 7:07 p.m. PT at Angel Stadium. Left-hander Tyler Skaggs (6-4, 2.81 ERA) will start opposite Toronto right-hander Aaron Sanchez (3-5, 4.35 ERA) in the series opener. Skaggs is 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA in three June starts. He faced the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 23 and took a no-decision after allowing three runs over five innings.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.