Angels overpower Red Sox with homers from Justin Upton and Mike Trout
Mike Trout has walked to the plate at Fenway Park more than 100 times since making his major league debut nine years ago. He has smacked singles and doubles to left field, hit a ground-rule double to right field and hit baseballs extremely hard, only to see them turned into outs.
Trout is arguably the most accomplished hitter of his time. Entering Saturday, his career 1.000 on-base-plus-slugging percentage was the highest of any qualified player who has appeared in the major leagues since 2011.
Yet Fenway’s quirky dimensions and idiosyncratic features had long denied him the pleasure of trotting around the bases after his own home run.
Until the sixth inning of the Angels’ 12-4 skid-breaking win over the Red Sox on Saturday. He smashed a first-pitch heater thrown to him by Boston starter Rick Porcello. The ball carried and carried, and carried some more, until it cleared the top of the Green Monster in left field and came down somewhere beyond the billboards 428 feet away from home plate.
“I was just trying to get a pitch to hit,” said Trout, who has now homered in all 15 American League ballparks. “He pitched me tough my first two at-bats. I just wanted to get a pitch over the middle and got one.”
Trout said he was aware he hadn’t homered in Fenway, but that was mostly because teammate Kole Calhoun had made a point of teasing him about it.
“I mean, he was going to hit one here before his career was over, right?” Boston manager Alex Cora said.
The home run was Trout’s AL-leading 39th of the season and the second by the Angels on an afternoon in which they bashed their way to their first win since July 30. Justin Upton collected four RBIs, including three with a first-inning homer. Eleven Angels batted in the seventh inning as they pummeled the Boston bullpen for seven runs.
The cushion helped the Angels lift the pressure they felt while losing 12 of their 14 previous games and being outscored 63-20 from July 31 through Friday.
“You’re not carrying that 800-pound gorilla on your back anymore collectively,” manager Brad Ausmus said. “Just go back to playing baseball. Not putting as much pressure on yourself in the box.”
Before Trout’s prodigious two-run blast, the Angels clung to a 3-1 lead. They had done nothing since Upton’s homer. Porcello had retired 14 in a row by the end of the fifth inning.
Throughout their eight-game skid, the Angels had not been able to couple good pitching with good hitting. They seemed destined to repeat that cycle after left-hander Andrew Heaney, making his first start since going on the injured list in mid-July, departed the game in the fourth. He had surrendered only one run in 3 2/3 innings but left runners on the corners for Taylor Cole.
Cole (2-3) had given up nine runs over two outings before bouncing back with a scoreless inning Thursday. He continued to rebound, getting out of Heaney’s jam and posting 1 2/3 scoreless innings Saturday. Adalberto Mejia allowed a run in the sixth, and JC Ramirez allowed two in the seventh. Neither performance altered the outcome.
The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani threw a high-intensity bullpen session and came away encouraged. However, he’s still a long way from being game ready.
Ausmus insisted after being routed 16-4 on Friday that the Angels’ woes weren’t rooted in lack of effort. The players were working hard, sticking to the plans laid out for them. Ausmus held a meeting with the team the day this nine-game trip started but otherwise never resorted to reprimanding the Angels. From his vantage point, they seemed to do a good enough job leaving past failures behind.
It just snowballed.
“It’s kind of like you forget what it feels like to win,” Heaney said.
Everything finally clicked.
“It was good to see the offense click on all cylinders and get a W,” said Trout, who is two homers shy of equaling his career high and could handily win his first home run title if he keeps up his pace.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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