Even when a pitcher makes a good pitch, the Los Angeles Angels center fielder is capable of doing damage. That is what the Houston Astros and Collin McHugh found out Monday in the series opener between the two teams.
McHugh threw a 75 mph curveball that was about six inches off the ground when Trout golfed it over the fence in left-center field for a home run.
“(Catcher Jason) Castro said it was going to bounce,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said.
Trout is as hot as anybody these days going into Wednesday's series finale against Houston. He is 4-for-7 with two doubles, a home run, a walk and two runs in the first two games of the series, both won by the Astros. He is hitting .560 (14-for-25) with three homers, two doubles, five RBIs and eight runs in his past six games overall.
“He's probably the best player on the planet,” Hinch said. “He always factors in, one way or another. It feels like it's always going to come down to him. … He's one of the elite players in the world, so it doesn't surprise me when he does that stuff.”
Trout has hit well in his career against left-hander Dallas Keuchel, the Astros' starter on Wednesday, batting .324 (11-for-34) with two homers.
“He's got a great idea of the strike zone, first of all,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “There are pitches that look like they are either ankle high, and some are even above the waist that he's getting to now this year. He's just a special player.”
Despite Trout's presence, the Angels (32-46) are mired in last place in the American League West, 19 games behind the first-place Texas Rangers (51-27). The Astros (41-37) are 10 games back, but they are in a virtual three-way tie for the second AL wild-card position.
“We've got to be more than Mike, and we feel we are more than Mike,” Scioscia said. “But the most important thing, and it seems like we've talked about this almost on a nightly basis, is getting our rotation in order and getting our bullpen set up where we get some roles and hold some leads. When that happens, I think we'll put up wins.”
Jered Weaver (6-6, 5.24 ERA) will start for the Angels on Wednesday. The one-time ace of the staff leads the team in wins (six) and innings pitched (89 1/3), but he also has given up 19 home runs, tied for second most in the league.
He will face an Astros lineup that has its own “mini-Mike Trout” in Jose Altuve, who will take a 10-game hitting streak into the game. Altuve has reached base by hit, walk or hit-by-pitch in 31 consecutive games, during which time he is batting .408 (49-for-120).
Altuve also has hit Weaver well over this career, batting .333 (10-for-30) against him.
Keuchel (4-9, 5.35 ERA) won his last start, allowing four runs in 6 1/3 innings Friday at Kansas City, after going 1-8 with a 6.20 ERA in a 12-start span.
With victories in the first two games of the series, the Astros have beaten the Angels seven times in a row, losing only the teams' first meeting of the season on May 27.