ANAHEIM -- The top players in the league take center stage in big games, and the biggest player currently in the game took the show on Saturday night for the Los Angeles Angels in front of over 40,000 fans.
There was concern after superstar outfielder, Mike Trout, fouled a ball off his back foot and lingered around in pain near home plate for near a minute. Just two pitches later, he doubled, and two innings later, gave the Angels the lead with a monstrous two-run home run. He didn't close it out there, gunning down a runner from near the warning track to keep the Angels pitching staff away from a runner in scoring position with just one out in a tight game.
The Seattle Mariners couldn't string together enough hits or base runners against the Angels' pitching staff to close the gap, and found themselves in the loss column by a final score of 4-2. The final outs came at the hands of Huston Street, who collected his 320th career save, moving him into sole possession of 18th all-time.
Mike Trout fouls ball off back foot in fourth-inning, then doubles
On a 2-2 count, Trout took a swing at a Hernandez changeup that he got on top off, and sent it directly to the top of his back foot. For over a minute, Trout was inspected by training staff, and walked around home plate to recover. Two pitches later, he doubled.
"It's pretty sore," said Trout. "It's pretty awkward to foul one off your back foot, but he threw me a nasty changeup or sinker, it was filthy, but tomorrow I should be good to go. It's just sore right now."
When strolling, trying to recover from the noticeable pain, Trout knew he would not be coming out of the game because of any pain he suffered.
"I wasn't gonna come out of the game, but it was bothering me the rest of the game and was definitely on my mind. Still aching but we'll see how it goes."
Mike Trout hits home run in sixth to give Angels 3-2 lead
Hernandez delivered an 0-1 sinker, that fell right to the bat head of Trout, and was sent 435 feet (according to Statcast) the opposite direction. The two-run home run gave the Angels a 3-2 lead, which would go for the game-winning hit in a 4-2 game.
The home run was made even more impressive, being hit off a pitcher of Hernandez's status. It was the fifth home run off King Felix in Trout's career, and he now has a .706 slugging percentage against the Mariners' ace.
"Mike's had success off a lot of pitchers, but to have success off of someone in Felix's class says a lot about a player and Mike's a great player," said Angels' manager, Mike Scioscia. "He's definitely had a pretty good track record against one of the best pitchers in baseball."
Trout now has a life-time .368 (25-for-68) batting average against Hernandez, and raised his season batting average from .283, upwards to .302, with a two-hit performance.
"It's a battle each and every time," Trout said about facing Hernandez. "He's obviously one of the best pitchers in the league for the past couple of years. He's got his stuff working and hard stuff to hit."
Mike Trout throws out Adam Lind, attempting to double, in the seventh inning
Lind scorched a ball to the heart of center field, bouncing once after hitting the midway part of the fence. Trout gobbled the ball on one hop and delivered a bullet to the infield, where second baseman, Cliff Pennington, took a short hop, and applied to the tag to record the out.
"The outfielders work on it each and every day. We long toss every series and try to get that arm strength in, every time there's a runner on second or third with less than two outs, we're both looking at each other to come up firing and we take pride in our defense."
The outfield assists was the sixth of the season for the Angels' outfield, which leads all of Major League Baseball.
There have been questions about the arm strength of Trout in the past, and he's proven them wrong countless times, with Saturday night being no exception. Manager, Mike Scioscia, believes the challenge early came from shoulder tendinitus, as well as youth.
"Any time a kid is 17 or 18-years-old, they start to play pro ball, they're gonna gain arm strength, and Mike did," said Scioscia. "He was set back in his first Spring Training with tendinitus in his shoulder. He's worked very hard, he's worked hard in the winter, there's no doubt that his arm is a plus arm out there in center field and we saw it tonight."
BY THE NUMBERS:
- Ji-Man Choi collected the first hit of his career, a single in the seventh inning, against Mariners' ace, Felix Hernandez
- Mike Trout now has a .706 slugging percentage against Felix Hernandez and is batting .386 against the M's long-time ace
- Mike Trout passed Don Baylor for eighth all-time in Angels franchise history in home runs, with his 142nd in an Angels uniform
- Felix Hernandez became the all-time strikeout leader in Mariners' franchise history, when he struck out Rafael Ortega in the first inning, the 2,163rd of his career
- Nelson Cruz is tied with Adrian Beltre for the most home runs at Angel Stadium for an opposing player, at 13, since 2007
- Since 2014, Mariners have the second best road win percentage at 93-80, trailing only the Kansas City Royals
PLAYER OF THE GAME:
Mike Trout, 2-for-3, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, R, IBB, A
There was no denying that Trout was the center piece of Saturday night's action, mixing a double after fouling a pitch off his foot, to a go-ahead two-run home run, to the finale, an outfield assist to keep a runner out of scoring position late in the affair.
"When he hit the double he was running really well, so hopefully he'll be fine," Scioscia said. "The throw on the ball to Pennington was as good as it's gonna get, that is right on the money and good tag from Penny. Then obviously, the biggest hit of the night was his two run home run off Felix and he put us up and we held the lead."
QUICK BOX SCORE:
Mariners, 2 (8-9); Angels, 4 (8-10)
W - Hector Santiago (2-0, 2.70)
L - Felix Hernandez (1-2, 1.80)
S - Huston Street (5, 1.17)
Time of Game : 2:45
First Pitch/Temp : 6:08pm PST / 73 degrees
Attendance : 41,058
Follow InsideTheHalos on Social Media: