It was almost impossible to see, especially with superstar Mike Trout’s second world numbers to open the season, but he had beaten a bit during his last three games.
With a strike in the first inning against Twins left-hander Lewis Thorpe on Friday, Trout had struck out in six of his last 10 record appearances, including four times in Tuesday’s loss to the Royals. But trout – as he always seems to do – broke out of that mini-downturn with a two-run key in the sixth inning to give the Angels the lead in a 10-3 win over the twins in the series opener at. Angel Stadium. And after the twins decided to hit him in that bat, they deliberately chose to go him in the seventh after a 2-2 count, leading to a grand slam from Justin Upton with two outs.
The Angels gave up three runs at the top of the sixth to lose an early lead, but quickly bounced back against Twins reliever Randy Dobnak. David Fletcher dropped in one of his typical singles to low right, and then Shohei Ohtani broke his bat with a single in the center. With some aggressive base running paying off, Fletcher came in third on the single, and Ohtani cleverly took second base and threw his hands in the air after the game to signify his excitement.
That brought Trout and Twins manager Rocco Baldelli up, not only choosing to settle for the triple AL MVP, but also bringing in the infield. Trout immediately got Minnesota to pay with a two-run single, which he tore just past shortstop Jorge Polanco and into the left field to give the Angels the lead.
“I felt pretty good about that moment,” Maddon said. “They put the three men on that side, and he hit it between the two of them in the five-six hole. Listen, he wants many of the moments to come.”
Trout came up on another key point in the seventh with runners in the corners and two out. Lefty Caleb Thielbar quickly moved on with a 0-2 count, but after Trout worked to make it 2-2, the twins deliberately decided to walk him to load the bases and get to Upton. It returned spectacularly for Minnesota as Upton absolutely wiped out a grand slam to the left to put the game away in his return after missing two games with back cramps.
“You can understand what Rocco did,” Maddon said. “I have actually done it before and deliberately went on a runner with two strikes. But J-Up came through and felt really good before the match. He did not miss one. That ball was properly clicked. ”
Going 1-for-2 with two walks in the game, Trout, 29, hits an incredible .386 / .526 / .750 with four homers, four doubles and 10 RBIs in 13 games. It has helped the Angels to an 8-5 start to the season that has them a half-game left by the Mariners for first place in the American League West. And of course, it’s been more than just trout as Jared Walsh is off to a warm start, going 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs, while Fletcher, Ohtani and Upton all played key roles in Friday’s win.
“I’m really looking forward to getting him and the whole team to the playoffs this year,” Maddon said. “So guys can have the opportunity to play in this type of game. We have played many of these games. I think it’s great to play against good competition. And Mikey came through again. “