Mike Trout swung through a 94-mph fastball to end a six-pitch strikeout in the third inning and a 93-mph fastball to end another six-pitch whiff in the fifth inning Saturday night.
The Angels center fielder known for his patience took a more aggressive approach in his next at-bat, smacking a first-pitch fastball to left field for a two-run single, the key hit in a four-run seventh that pushed the Angels to a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the Chicago White Sox in Angel Stadium.
“I couldn’t tell you if that was planned,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “Every once in a while Mike does go out of his comfort at the plate. He doesn’t swing at a lot of first pitches or 3-0 pitches, but if he thinks he can take advantage of something, he will come out of that comfort zone at times.”
Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, Luis Rengifo walked and pinch-hitter Shohei Ohtani poked an end-of-the-bat, one-out single to center off left-hander Jace Fry.
David Fletcher walked against right-hander Evan Marshall to load the bases. Trout ambushed Marshall on his single to cut the deficit to 5-4. Justin Upton’s hard grounder went off the glove of third baseman Ryan Goins for an error that allowed Fletcher to score for a 5-5 tie and put runners on second and third.
Kole Calhoun was intentionally walked to load the bases. Albert Pujols struck out, but Brian Goodwin walked to force in Trout for a 6-5 lead.
Cam Bedrosian struck out the side in the eighth, and Hansel Robles retired the side in order in the ninth for his 18th save, marking only the fourth time in 62 games this season the Angels have won when trailing after six innings. Goodwin (second inning) and Upton (third) hit solo homers.
Angels left-hander Jose Suarez sandwiched three shutout innings around a four-run third in which he was tipping his pitches, a problem that plagued the 21-year-old rookie in his three previous starts, when he gave up 14 earned runs and 21 hits, including five homers, in 121/3 innings to Detroit, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.
Suarez replaced opener Noe Ramirez with one out in the second and retired four straight batters, two by strikeout, but a two-out walk to Tim Anderson led to trouble in the third.
Jose Abreu singled and James McCann ripped a 2-and-2 changeup to left for a two-run double. Eloy Jimenez lined a 1-2 curve over the center-field wall for a two-run homer and a 5-1 Chicago lead.
“We found he was tipping again early, but we were able to address it,” Ausmus said. “It’s a situation where a pitcher has a delivery ingrained in his head and it’s hard to shake bad habits. He was able to do it the last two or three innings. It seemed like the hitters were a lot less sure what was coming their way.”
Suarez struck out Welington Castillo to end the third and gave up singles in scoreless fourth and fifth. He struck out Abreu and McCann in the fifth before being replaced by Taylor Cole in the sixth.
Suarez said he believes he was tipping pitches by the way he positioned his glove in the stretch.
“It’s tough to fix those things when you’re in the game,” Ausmus said. “The adrenaline is going and you’re focusing on the pitch, and in executing, you forget about what you might have been doing to tip. Luckily, we picked up on it, we made a change and it seemed to be effective.”