After going 2-for-3 with a homer in Monday’s game against the Astros, Angels superstar Mike Trout said he felt like his swing was “getting close.”
Well, it appears that swing is back on track, as Trout homered for a third straight game on Thursday, obliterating a solo homer off Blue Jays right-hander Ross Stripling in the fifth inning to give the Angels a one-run lead in an eventual 7-5 victory in 11 innings. Trout’s homer went a projected 444 feet and apparently struck a building at Curtis Fundamental Elementary School beyond the left-field fence at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla. It also left the bat at 110.6 mph, per Statcast.
“Luckily school was out for the evening,” Angels manager Joe Maddon quipped. “That one definitely had some flight attendants working on it.”
Trout nearly gave the Angels the lead in the ninth inning, smacking a sinking liner to center with two on and two out. But Randal Grichuk robbed him of the go-ahead hit with a diving catch in center to keep the game tied. Trout had to settle for going 3-for-5 and falling a triple short of the cycle in the victory, which was keyed by a go-ahead two-run single from David Fletcher in the 11th.
Trout’s first-inning blast gave him a homer in three straight games for the ninth time in his career. His longest streak is going deep in four consecutive games, something he did from May 12-15, 2017 and April 4-7, 2019.
All three homers for Trout were crushed, as his first homer of the year went 417 feet on Monday and his second went 464 feet on Tuesday giving him a combined 1,325 feet worth of homers, an average of 442 feet per blast. He’s also slashing a cool .417/.563/.875 with five extra-base hits and six RBIs in seven games this season.
“He’s just fine-tuning things,” Maddon said. “Coming out of camp, he wasn’t quite right but he’s done a lot of work with the hitting coaches. We’re just seeing the residue of great work by a really good baseball player. So there’s no surprise element to any of this. He’s not doing anything new, it’s actually a lot of old stuff.”
Trout doubled in his first at-bat against Stripling in the first and scored on an RBI single from Anthony Rendon. He struck out looking in his second at-bat in the third on a high fastball from Stripling but got his revenge in the fifth. With his 2-for-3 showing against Stripling, he’s now 7-for-10 with three homers against the right-hander in his career. It was also notable that the extra-base hits came on first-pitch fastballs, as Trout usually doesn’t swing at the first offering he sees.
“Trout owns me,” Stripling said. “He knows it. I know it. Maybe by putting it out there into the atmosphere now, it will put some luck back in my favor. He kind of went out of the norm for him for both of those. Two outs, nobody on, swung at the first pitch both times. Double in the first, the homer in the fifth. Normally, he’s more passive there and trying to get ahead. With him, he’s a matchup nightmare for me because he hammers the ball down in the zone and hammers off-speed in the zone, which is my bread and butter. You can beat him up in the zone with velocity, but I throw 91 mph, so he can get to that as you saw on the home run.”
Trout came up in a big spot in the ninth but was robbed by Grichuk, who covered 30 feet in 3.1 seconds to make a four-star play. Trout also opened the 10th as the club’s automatic runner at second base, but he was stranded there.
The Angels, though, received a scoreless 10th inning from reliever Junior Guerra, and Fletcher’s two-run single was enough for closer Raisel Iglesias to help the Angels to a 5-2 record to open the season.
“When he’s doing his thing, it’s kind of contagious,” Fletcher said of Trout. “He kind of bails us out if we’re not swinging the bats well or just keeps us going. So that’s huge for him to be him.”