Angels lose game and maybe Mike Trout

Mike Trout will be examined by a doctor Wednesday in Houston after leaving the Angels' 7-2 loss to the Astros because of back discomfort. The outfielder had missed the Angels' last two games with back stiffness.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Angels were looking forward to having their lineup back to full strength Tuesday for the first time since the first week of the season.

It lasted one inning.

As the Angels opened a three-game series with the Houston Astros, slugger Josh Hamilton returned after nearly two months on the disabled list and Mike Trout returned after sitting ou two games because of back stiffness.

But after Trout struck out swinging in the first inning at Minute Maid Park, he left the game because of continued back problems. The Astros then rolled to a 7-2 victory and handed the Angels their fourth consecutive loss.


Trout said he was examined by a doctor before the game but would be more thoroughly evaluated Wednesday in Houston.

“He’ll have some studies done,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “I’m sure he’s going to have some kind of an X-ray or something.

“We’ll definitely take a half-step back here and find out exactly what’s going on. He can’t think of one thing that he did in the course of the last three or four days that caused it.”

Trout said he “didn’t feel comfortable” when the game started.

“I didn’t want to risk it and push it too much,” Trout said. “I felt something and it’s the same thing I’ve been feeling for a couple of days.”

Asked how concerned he was, Trout replied, “Not too concerned. [I] made progress over the last two days, so it was obviously getting better, but just don’t want to push it too much where it gets worse.

“It’s frustrating for me, I want to be out there.”

None of this is what the Angels had hoped for after being swept in a three-game series by the Athletics in Oakland before they arrived in Houston to end a 10-game trip.

The Angels have been outscored, 33-13, in their last four games.

Hamilton, though, appeared mostly recovered.

Batting cleanup, Hamilton hit a home run into the right-field stands in the eighth inning against reliever Tony Sipp.

And in the first inning, Hamilton crushed a pitch from starter Collin McHugh more than 400 feet to the quirky, grassy incline in center field known as “Tal’s Hill,” where center fielder Dexter Fowler caught the ball while falling to his knees.

“Anywhere in the world he’s got two home runs, except here,” Scioscia said of Hamilton.

Before Hamilton was injured, he was batting .444 (12 for 27) with two home runs and six runs batted in through eight games.

Hamilton tore a ligament in his left thumb April 8 while sliding headfirst into first base in Seattle, a maneuver he chalked up to instinct.

But Hamilton returned Tuesday with a slight change of heart.

After being sidelined eight games into the season, the 6-foot-4, 240-pound outfielder said he’s re-evaluating the idea of a headfirst slide into first base.

“I’m going to give it a break for a while,” Hamilton said. “You get smarter as far as trying to know when to do things and when not to do things.

“You understand you need to be here for the long haul, play as many games as possible. I never thought about it as far as sliding because I’d never been hurt sliding.”