Mike Trout hit another home run Sunday, which is almost a given considering the tear he’s been on since the Angels returned from a brutal season-opening trip Wednesday.
The star center fielder hit his fifth homer in four games, sending a screaming line drive over the left-center field wall in the sixth inning of a 7-2 victory over the Texas Rangers before 42,076 in Angel Stadium.
According to Statcast, the ball left Trout’s bat at 113 mph, traveled 422 feet and, with a launch angle of 20 degrees, reached only 57 feet at its apex. It was the second time in his eight-year career he’s homered in four straight games, the other streak coming May 12-15, 2017, against Detroit and the Chicago White Sox.
Trout became the first player in American League history to hit five homers in his team’s first four home games of a season. He also tied a club record with five homers in a series, a mark set by Vladimir Guerrero against Texas in 2004, Garret Anderson against Montreal in 2003 and Doug DeCinces against Minnesota in 1982.
And he wasn’t even the biggest story of the day. That distinction belonged to an Angels bullpen that was buzzing with activity, and not just because it got stout work from five relievers to secure its third straight win after the team’s 1-6 start.
The game was delayed a few minutes before the fifth inning when a swarm of bees beyond the left-field fence sent relievers from both bullpens scrambling for cover.
“When [Rangers reliever Kyle] Bird had to warm up, it was a zoo, for sure,” Angels reliever Justin Anderson said. “We were watching him, trying not to laugh, as he was swatting stuff left and right. Those swarms, they’re like a tornado—they keep coming your way. I was like, ‘We needed to do something.’ ”
Fellow reliever Luke Bard took action, turning the giant fan at the end of the bullpen bench toward the bees.
“He was thinking it would blow them away,” Anderson said. “Instead, they kept coming through it. It was sucking them in. If you go out there by the fan you’ll see dead bees everywhere. I guess that was our side entertainment for the day.”
The main attraction came soon after the bees dispersed enough for the game to resume.
Anderson replaced starter Chris Stratton with the bases loaded and no outs in the fifth and struck out Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor with full-count fastballs and got Elvis Andrus to line out to third to preserve a 4-2 lead.
Cam Bedrosian added a hitless sixth and Luis Garcia threw a scoreless seventh, the Angels backing each reliever with inning-ending double plays.
Ty Buttrey cleaned up Garcia’s mess in the eighth, entering with the bases loaded and one out and getting Joey Gallo to fly to shallow right field, the runners holding, and striking out Asdrubal Cabrera looking at a 95-mph fastball.
Noe Ramirez struck out two in a one-two-three ninth, lowering the team’s bullpen ERA to 1.53 in 10 games. The relief corps, not expected to be a strength, has allowed six earned runs in 35 1/3 innings, striking out 42 and walking 12.
“I’m not surprised, with the work they put in,” Trout said. “Everybody has a role. That’s big for a bullpen. Everyone knows their job. The first week and a half, they’ve been put in some big situations, and they’re doing great.”
Anderson’s escape act marked the second time he has bailed out Stratton, who gave up a 441-foot two-run homer to Gallo in the second inning. Anderson replaced Stratton and got out of a two-on, one-out jam last Monday in Seattle.
“I owe that guy a steak dinner or whatever he wants,” Stratton said.
The Angels countered Gallo’s homer with four runs in the bottom of the second off Texas starter Shelby Miller, Jonathan Lucroy and David Fletcher driving in runs with singles, Zack Cozart with a hit by pitch and Tommy La Stella with a groundout. The rally was set up by Andrelton Simmons’ single and two walks.
Trout’s homer made it 6-2, and Angels right fielder Brian Goodwin added another tape-measure blast in the seventh, sending a 453-foot solo homer into the batter’s eye above the center-field wall for a 7-2 lead in the seventh.
“I’ve said at times that Trout is going to be the bulk of our offense,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said, “but we need on any given day to have six or seven guys contribute to score runs.”