ANAHEIM -- Mike Trout has already tied his career high in homers and it’s only mid-August.
Trout connected on his 41st homer of the season during Friday's 7-2 loss to the White Sox at Angel Stadium, smacking a solo shot off right-hander Lucas Giolito in the fifth inning. It matched Trout’s career best of 41 homers set in 2015. He is now tied for the second-highest total in franchise history, behind Troy Glaus’ club record of 47 set in 2000.
“It’s pretty cool to set a career high in the middle of August,” Trout said. “Month and a half left, we’ve got to finish strong.”
The homer also tied him with the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger for the Major League lead in long balls this season, with the Brewers’ Christian Yelich (39) and the Mets’ Pete Alonso (39) right behind them. The Royals’ Jorge Soler is second in the American League with 35 blasts.
Trout has never led the AL in homers in his highly decorated nine-year career that has seen him win the AL MVP Award twice. He’s on pace for 54 homers.
“I’m running out of things to say,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “Between him and Albert [Pujols’ milestones], I’m running out of things to say.”
Trout’s homer came on a night after he went 4-for-4 with a homer, four runs and a walk on Thursday to snap an 0-for-11 skid. The solo shot came off a 2-2 slider from Giolito with one out in the fifth, and brought the Angels within one run. Trout's homer had an exit velocity of 107 mph and went a projected 438 feet to center, per Statcast.
"He [Giolito] hides the ball really well," Trout said. “He’s got a good changeup. He’s got that short slot. It’s tough picking it up. That’s why he’s having a great year this year. Just got a pitch to hit, squared it up and hit it over the fence."
Giolito, who struck out 11 over six innings, lamented his pitch selection against Trout in that at-bat.
“I battled well, but at the end of the day, he got me,” Giolito said. “I think that if I had thrown a different pitch there, then the result could’ve been a little bit different, but it is what it is. He’s the best hitter in the game, that’s gonna happen.”
Trout also showed off his arm in the sixth, throwing out White Sox catcher James McCann at third base as he tried to tag up on a fly ball hit to center. Trout’s throw was 91.6 mph to third baseman Matt Thaiss, who was able to get the tag down on McCann on a play that was upheld after a review.
“I kind of didn’t even get a good grip at first,” Trout said. “I bobbled the transfer, but Thaiss made a good tag and obviously McCann slid past the bag. I gave it a chance. I knew there was going to be a play. All I can do there is put a good throw on the bag, see what happens.”
It was Trout’s fifth outfield assist of the season, and he’s showing that his hard work to improve his arm strength over the last few seasons has paid off. Trout had a throw reach 98 mph on a cannon to home at Dodger Stadium in July, and has a chance to pass his personal best of seven outfield assists.
“Just long tossing and trying to get it stronger, be accurate,” Trout said. “We emphasized that in spring. It’s shown.”
Trout finished the inning with another nice defensive play, running down a deep drive to left-center field from Welington Castillo to help reliever Luis Garcia get out of the inning. It had a 60 percent catch probability, as he had to go 74 feet in 4.4 seconds to make the grab, making it a three-star catch, per Statcast. Trout's sprint speed reached 29.1 feet per second, which is well above the MLB average of 27.
“That was a nice play and at the time, a very big play,” Ausmus said. “It kept the game close and gave us an opportunity to win the game.”