Trout's game-saving catch keeps Angels at .500
Center fielder shows off MVP skills in ninth inning that represents club's April
OAKLAND -- Mike Trout's game-ending catch in Thursday's series finale was so good, it nearly sent the Angels' closer to the disabled list.
"I almost pulled an oblique doing a fist pump," Huston Street said after the Angels' nail-biting, hair-raising 6-5 victory over the A's at the Coliseum. "That's why he's an MVP."
The Angels' lead had been cut from four to one, with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth, when Ike Davis lifted Street's 1-2 offering to deep center field. Trout drifted back, felt the warning track beneath his feet, leaped toward the wall, cocked his left arm behind his head, secured the ball in his glove, swung his right fist through the air and punctuated the month of April like only he can.
According to MLB.com Statcast (TM) calculations, Trout's acceleration was 4.349 mph and he reached a top running speed of 16.272 mph. The ball's exit speed off Davis' bat was 100.86 mph and it traveled 405.18 feet.
"He was going to help us win one way or another," Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said of Trout. "Bat, glove, legs, he does it all. You know that."
The Angels know one other thing: They still aren't playing their best baseball, but they finished the season's first month with 11 wins and 11 losses, keeping their collective heads above water.
"We definitely feel we can play better," Street said, "but to be .500 at this point, we'll take it."
Vinnie Pestano took the ball in the bottom of the ninth, hopeful of preserving a 6-2 lead and keeping Street from making an appearance. Then C.J. Cron missed a foul popup and the first five A's batters reached, three of them on singles and two of them on walks, and suddenly the Angels were holding on for dear life.
Street, who entered only two batters in, faced the bases loaded with none out and the Angels leading by two. He got Max Muncy to pop out to shallow left field, gave up an RBI single to Sam Fuld -- on a ball that fell right in front of Trout, who kept it in front of him rather than going for an all-or-nothing dive -- and got Marcus Semien to fly out to shallow right field.
Four pitches later, he hung a changeup to Davis and watched it sail.
"Off the bat, I didn't think it was going that far," Street said. "I thought the game was over. Then the ball kept going. Then you're just watching Trouty's glove."
Trout had a hard time seeing anything to his right on this bright afternoon, so he kept everything to his left -- until his feet left the ground.
"At the end, it started tailing back to the right," Trout said. "I knew he hit it pretty well. I went back to the track, jumped up and caught it. It had good carry to it."
That half-inning was, in many ways, a microcosm of the Angels' April: clumsy and filled with drama, but ultimately successful, in large part because of Mike Trout.
The Angels spent almost the entire first month dealing with the never-ending saga surrounding Josh Hamilton, who was ultimately traded back to the Rangers on Monday. Besides Trout (.329/.447/.592 slash line), Calhoun (.315/.367/.493) and Johnny Giavotella (.317/.380/.413), they didn't really hit. They got Garrett Richards back from the serious knee injury he suffered last August, but they lost Albert Pujols to a hamstring muscle he tweaked Wednesday night. They watched Street lock down nine saves, but they witnessed Jered Weaver's first winless April.
They finished it with a .500 record, easily within striking distance in the American League West.
They'll take it.
"I feel like April for some teams is either their worst nightmare or that boost they need to take them all the way," said Richards, who was charged with one run in six-plus innings and has a 3.00 ERA in his first three starts.
"For us, staying right there at .500, I think we're in a good spot. We're right there in the division, everybody's kind of beating each other up. This is a team that shows up every day and just tries to win a ballgame. We don't get too caught up in the past or the future. It's a special team, and I think this is going to be a good building block for us."