Monday, June 4, 2012
Mike Trout left to swim on his own
By Mark Saxon
ANAHEIM -- It's probably not a great sign for your offense when the only player on your team not old enough to drink is the only guy who has no reason to.
Mike Trout has been every bit the blinding talent the Angels thought they had, but as this team methodically tries to pull itself out of April's muck, it has felt at times like he's going it alone. That's a lot to put on a 20-year old, no matter how broad his shoulders.
The guy who should be pulling this team along, Albert Pujols, has shown signs -- batting .311 with seven home runs over his past 20 games -- but he has yet to have that signature Angels moment. Sunday's game was begging for it, when Texas pitcher Alexi Ogando loaded the bases before getting Pujols to pop up a 99-mph fastball.
The spotlight came back around to Pujols Monday, the Seattle Mariners clinging to an 8-6 lead with runners at second and third and one out. The crowd could sense that this might be it, when Pujols made everybody forget his dismal first month. It chanted, "Pujols! Pujols!"
And ... Pujols hit a ball roughly 55 feet, on a couple feeble hops back to the pitcher.
Mark Trumbo, the other member of the 1-2-3 punch that helped the Angels go on that recent eight-game winning streak, has hit a sudden and drastic rut. Trumbo has one hit in his last 16 at-bats, going down swinging -- at pitches well outside the strike zone -- four times Monday.
And until Kendrys Morales starts doing consistently what he did Monday -- hitting with power -- the Angels are left waiting for their big bats to catch up to the speedster at the top of the lineup and he's not easy to catch up to. Meanwhile, they'd better hope that Trout doesn't cool off in the interim. Trout is practically leaving a vapor trail these days, hitting .447 with three doubles, three triples and 10 RBIs in this nine-game hitting streak.
"Mike's been as consistent as anybody we have out there for sure. There's no doubt that he's pulling his share -- plus," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "But there have been some other guys that have chipped in with the bat. If you're saying he's the lone soldier, I don't agree with that, no."
That's fine, but shouldn't Trout, at this tender stage in his development, be the one who just has to chip in?