Although Mike Trout got all the fanfare before his major league debut, the Angels’ prized teenage prospect quickly learned he’ll have plenty of talented company in Los Angeles’ lineup of the future.
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Mark Trumbo led off the ninth with a tiebreaking homer, and Hank Conger hit a tying homer in the seventh inning of the Angels’ 12th win in 15 games, 4-3 over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Trout went 0 for 3 after his abrupt promotion from Double-A for the Angels’ final three games before the All-Star break, but the 19-year-old made a spectacular sprinting catch in center field to end Seattle’s ninth inning.
Trout then got to watch as Trumbo, the Angels’ slugging rookie first baseman, hit Los Angeles’ first game-ending homer of the season into the trees beyond center field.
”I feel good because we got a big win,” said Trout, widely considered the top prospect in baseball. ”That catch was definitely a momentum-shifter, I think, and then Trumbo came through for us. It was exciting.”
After Conger got the Angels back in it with a shot off Jamey Wright, All-Star closer Jordan Walden (2-2) pitched the ninth for Los Angeles. Conger, Walden, Trumbo and Trout are all major parts of the youthful core coming up simultaneously for the Angels.
”We’ve got some young guys on our club who we’re counting on to piece together a puzzle on what we believe is a championship-caliber club,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Erick Aybar hit a leadoff homer and Vernon Wells also connected for the Angels before Trumbo crushed one bad pitch from reliable reliever David Pauley (5-2), who had just escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth.
”I knew it as soon as he hit it,” Pauley said while slumped disconsolately at his locker. ”I knew it as soon as I threw it. It’s a tough one to take. You’re trying everything to get out of the (eighth inning), and then it happens in the ninth.”
Greg Halman had two hits for the Mariners, who have lost 14 of their past 16 games at Angel Stadium.
The Angel Stadium crowd was eager for its first real look at Trout, the youngest player to debut in the majors since Seattle’s Felix Hernandez – who’s slated to face Trout on Sunday – in 2005. He’s also the youngest Angels player in 40 years.
Trout has torn through the low minors since the Angels picked the Millville, N.J., native in the first round in 2009, but Scioscia said Trout’s stint might not last through next week, when center fielder Peter Bourjos is expected to return from a strained right hamstring. Bourjos was injured in the eighth inning Thursday night.
After a warm ovation, Trout flied out to right in his first major league at-bat in the second inning. After grounding out in the fifth, he lined out to center field in the seventh.
But Trout’s defense is Scioscia’s favorite attribute. Gutierrez hit a powerful drive into the right-center gap for Seattle with two outs in the ninth, but Trout somehow sprinted under the ball as it tailed away from him at the wall.
”Mike had a great game,” Conger said. ”It was a treat to see him play.”
Blake Beavan gave up Aybar’s homer on his second pitch before settling down for another solid effort in his second major league start for the Mariners, yielding six hits and two runs while pitching into the seventh inning. Beavan left with a 3-2 lead, but reliever Jamey Wright immediately gave up Conger’s fifth homer.
Los Angeles loaded the bases in the eighth on two walks and Wells’ single, but Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo both failed to get a run home, producing meek grounders against Pauley. The Angels dropped to a dismal 10 for 53 with the bases loaded this season.
”We had to scrape and claw to get out of the eighth inning,” Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ”You can live with a solo shot, but not four of them.”
Ervin Santana allowed six hits and three runs over seven innings for the Angels. The veteran has pitched well since June, but has won just one of his past eight starts.
NOTES: The Angels began and ended a game with a homer for the first time since June 25, 2000, when Darin Erstad hit both shots. … Kendrick extended his hitting streak to a career-best 17 games with a first-inning single. … Mariners 3B Kyle Seager reached base on a seventh-inning walk in his second major league game, but was called out while stealing second when Halman interfered with Conger. Seager debuted for the Mariners on Thursday against Los Angeles, going 0 for 4. … Seattle closer David Aardsma threw off the mound in the bullpen before the game. Aardsma has missed the entire season after undergoing hip surgery, but Wedge believes he’s close to being ready for a minor-league rehab assignment.