Saturday, July 14, 2012
Trout stays hot while teammates cool off
By Mike Mazzeo
NEW YORK -- The Los Angeles Angels have plenty of concerns.
Mike Trout isn’t one of them.
The 20-year-old rookie phenom had three hits and two stolen bases for the Angels on Saturday afternoon, but Jerome Williams was tagged for five runs on seven hits in six innings and their anemic offense went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
“We lost, so my performance doesn’t mean much,” said Trout, who became the sixth rookie in franchise history to record at least 30 stolen bases in a season.
Over his last 20 games, the All-Star left fielder is hitting .407 (33-for-81) with 23 runs, six doubles, six homers, 13 RBIs and 11 steals.
On Saturday afternoon, Trout led off the game with an infield single, advanced from second to third by tagging up on a shallow fly ball, and scored on Alberto Callaspo’s two-out, two-run single. He ripped a double to left in the second. Then he bounced a single up the middle and swiped a pair of bags in the fourth, but was stranded at third.
“Mike obviously picked up in the second half where he left off in the first half,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He did a good job getting on base and getting into scoring position. But between Mike and a couple other hits, there wasn’t much offense to be had.”
As a result, Williams, making his first start since going on the 15-day disabled list with a respiratory illness, was going to have to be nothing short of perfect to beat the Yankees -- a daunting challenge for any pitcher.
Robinson Cano belted a changeup from the 30-year-old right-hander that stayed up into left for a two-run homer in the first, and Curtis Granderson proceeded to hammer a hanging curveball from Williams for another two-run blast -- this one into the second deck in right -- in the third.
“Yeah, everything felt fine. I thought I threw the ball well,” said Williams (6-6), who has lost his last four starts, pitching to a 7.54 ERA over that stretch. “I just gave up two homers.”
The Angels haven’t gotten a quality start from anyone other than Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson since June 24.
“I think you guys ask a lot about our offense and what’s going on there, but the reality of the last road trip before the first half and what’s happen the last couple of weeks has been the inconsistencies of our starting pitching,” Scioscia said. “Out of all the things that we’re talking about with our team, I think that has a chance to improve quicker than a lot of things that you try to fix with a club.”
Question is: Can it be fixed internally, or will the Angels look outside their organization for help by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline?
“Well, we don’t have a crystal ball,” Scioscia said. “But I think we’re confident that Ervin Santana is going to throw the ball better than we saw in the first half and we’re confident that a healthy Dan Haren (scheduled to throw another bullpen Saturday afternoon in California) is going to execute pitches better.”
The Angels have been able to turn their season around following a tumultuous 6-14 start because Weaver and Wilson have performed as advertised, the back end of their bullpen has been lights out and Trout and Mark Trumbo have picked up the slack for Albert Pujols and Kendrys Morales.
But if Los Angeles is serious about becoming a World Series contender, its starting pitching depth and offense needs to be better.