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Already the owner of two American League Most Valuable Player awards by age 25 Darqueze Dennard Jersey , Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is showing there’s always room for improvement.
Trout is having the best offensive month of his major-league career heading into the second game of a four-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
The Angels (40-35) won the series opener 8-5 on Thursday night at Angel Stadium, getting two home runs from Luis Valbuena and another from Kole Calhoun for the second straight game.
Trout went 0-for-2 but drew three walks and scored two runs against the Blue Jays (34-40).
Trout is hitting .433 in June with five home runs and 12 RBIs. His on-base percentage rose to .471 for the season.
Trout’s previous best batting average for a month was .392 in July of 2012, his first full season in the majors. He also had 10 home runs and 23 RBIs during that stretch.
A big difference in Trout’s game this season has been his walk-to-strikeout ratio. He had 12 walks and 21 strikeouts in July 2012 but has 17 walks and 13 strikeouts so far this month.
“I’m just trying to look for my pitch, and if it’s not there, I’m just taking my walks,” Trout told reporters earlier this week. “For me, if I try to expand the strike zone, that’s when I get in trouble.”
Trout has also done well in his career against Toronto’s scheduled starter on Friday night, Marco Estrada. Trout is 4-for-10 with two home runs off the right-hander.
Estrada (4-6, 4.66 ERA) will try to stay on a roll after winning his past two starts. He went eight consecutive outings without earning a win before this latest stretch.
His last start may have been his best of the season. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win on Saturday against the visiting Washington Nationals, out-dueling right-hander Max Scherzer, who leads the National League with 10 wins.
Estrada faced the visiting Angels during his winless stretch four weeks ago and surrendered four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Toronto went on to lose 8-1.
Estrada is 1-2 in his career against the Angels with a 6.95 ERA, his highest against any AL team.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is 4-for-10 in his career against Estrada, and shortstop Andrelton Simmons is 6-for-12.
“For four years now, every single day, when Marco Estrada’s time comes around, he gives all he has,” Toronto second baseman Devon Travis told Sportsnet after the win against the Nationals last weekend.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney was matched against Estrada in his only career appearance against the Blue Jays and it didn’t go well for the left-hander. He gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings of the 15-3 loss in Anaheim on Aug. 22, 2015.
Heaney (3-5, 3.64) was in line to win his last outing after allowing three runs and three hits in eight innings against the Oakland A’s on Sunday, but the bullpen gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth before Oakland won in the 11th.
On a steamy day that proved too daunting for Angels starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs, 38-year-old Albert Pujols coolly delivered the game’s pivotal hit.
Pujols’ RBI double highlighted a five-run eighth inning Dre Kirkpatrick Jersey , and Los Angeles beat the Orioles 6-2 Saturday to extend Baltimore’s latest losing streak to seven games.
Gametime temperature was 93, and the humidity was unforgiving. Sweating profusely, Skaggs asked out after using 79 pitches to get through five innings.
”It’s definitely one of the hottest games I’ve thrown in a long time,” Skaggs said. ”I was just tired. I told (manager Mike Scioscia) I rarely come out and say this, but I’m exhausted.”
Skaggs added: ”I probably could have gone another inning, but there was no point. My team picked me up.”
Playing their 3,000th game under Scioscia, the Angels trailed 2-1 before using three hits, three walks and a hit batter to take control against the free-falling Orioles.
After Mychal Givens (0-6) issued a pair of one-out walks, Pujols tied it with his 632nd career double , a drive that handcuffed right fielder Danny Valencia. The hit tied David Ortiz for 10th place on the all-time list – and tied the game.
An intentional walk followed, and the go-ahead run scored when Chris Young hit into a force play at third base. Tanner Scott hit Martin Maldonado with a pitch to force in a run, and David Fletcher capped the uprising with a two-run single.
”It was good clutch-hitting that inning,” Scioscia said. ”I think the biggest hit there was Albert.”
The Angels lost six straight before coming to Baltimore, and now they appear to have their mojo back.
”Whenever you can grind out runs late in the game to come back and win, it’s exciting,” Fletcher said. ”It’s definitely something to give us confidence.”
Justin Anderson (2-2) pitched 1 1/3 innings to earn the win.
The Orioles’ shoddy play in the eighth inning explains why Baltimore owns the worst record in the majors. Baltimore has five losing streaks of at least six games, is 0-15 against the AL West and has lost 17 of 18 at home.
Afterward, manager Buck Showalter was straining to find the positive aspect of another dreadful defeat.
”When you only score two runs – again – you’re going to have to pitch real well, which we really did for seven innings,” he said. ”So, I’ll take that out of it.”
Baltimore’s Andrew Cashner threw 105 pitches. He gave up one run in six innings and left with the lead Geno Atkins Jersey , but now has gone six straight starts without a victory.
”To say I’m not frustrated, I’d be lying, but for me, wins and losses are out of my control,” the right-hander said.
Scioscia is the sixth manager in major league history to manage 3,000 games with one team.
”You don’t think about it,” Scioscia said about his longevity. ”It’s 3,000, one game at a time.”
TAKE A SEAT
Struggling Orioles 2B Jonathan Schoop (.197) was given the day off, and will likely be rested Sunday before Monday’s off day. Showalter said he wanted the 2017 All-Star to ”reset.”
Angels: RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani, who has a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow, batted in a simulated game Saturday and did not experience any setbacks, Scioscia said. The team hopes Ohtani can avoid Tommy John surgery. . LHP John Lamb has a torn ulnar collateral ligament and will undergo surgery in Los Angeles. . RHP Jake Jewell will be out at least six months after undergoing right ankle surgery Friday. . RHP Garrett Richards (hamstring) allowed five runs over 3 1/3 innings in a rehab start Friday with High-A Inland Empire. ”He lost some of his command as the outing went on, but physically he felt great,” Scioscia said.
Orioles: RHP Darren O’Day opted for surgery to repair a left hamstring strain, ending his season. … RHP Chris Tillman (back) was scheduled to make his third rehab start, this time with Triple-A Norfolk, on Saturday.
Angels: RHP Deck McGuire (0-0, 6.08 ERA) makes his third major league start in the series finale Sunday.
Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (3-6, 4.20 ERA) lost his last four decisions and has not completed seven innings in any of his last eight starts.
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