Trout, Trumbo earning their halos
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
|Albert Pujols of the L.A. Angels of Anaheim. (JEFF GOLDEN/Getty Images/AFP)
There is no reward for the Blue Jays, who are returning from a rough 4-5 road trip where in the finale their "ace" Ricky Romero got tonged.
Instead, the Jays get a four-game set against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who just happen to be the hottest team in baseball.
Heading into their game against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, the Angels have won 23 of their past 31 games.
Since stumbling out of the gate to go 6-14 in their opening 20 games, the Angels have righted themselves by going 35-19 to get right back into the race in the AL West.
The Angels' surge has been fueled by virtually every player on their roster.
Setting the tone has been their pitching staff, which leads the American League with a 3.42 ERA. In their past 33 games before Wednesday, the Angels' starters have posted an incredible 2.10 ERA.
Offensively, the Angels have had an awakening from expensive free agent acquisition Albert Pujols but their rise in the standings has relied more on the contributions of the T factor of rookie Mike Trout and sophomore Mark Trumbo.
Trumbo, 26, had a terrific rookie season in 2011 and has followed that up by ranking among the league leaders in several offensive categories including batting average (.320), home runs (18) and RBIs (50).
The big news in Southern California, however, has been supplied by Trout, their 20-year-old rookie left fielder, who has been their leadoff hitter and sparkplug since he was promoted on April 28.
Trout went into Wednesday's game as the leading hitter in the league (.335), and since May 1 has been hitting .348 and has scored the most runs -- 44.
"It's incredible what those guys have meant to us," veteran right fielder Torii Hunter said recently of Trumbo and Trout. "These guys are so young, but they know how to play the game. They're the ones who got us going."
Trout is also the league leader in stolen bases with 21 and has impressed his teammates with his level-headed approach.
"(Trout) is just a kid, but he comes here and plays," Pujols told reporters. "He acts like a veteran guy. The way he runs the bases, the way he goes after the ball, he knows the game. And when he's on base, you know he's going to score."
So far, Trout is hitting nothing but the high notes.
"When you look at Mike's potential, it's not surprising," manager Mike Scioscia said recently. "But for him to be doing it at such a young age is certainly an accomplishment. It's been fun to watch."
ANGELS AT BLUE JAYS
THURSDAY 7:07 p.m. RHP Dan Haren vs. LHP Brett Cecil
FRIDAY 7:07 p.m. RHP Ervin Santana vs. RHP Carlos Villanueva
SATURDAY 1:07 p.m. RHP Garrett Richards vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez
SUNDAY 3:07 p.m. LHP C.J. Wilson vs. LHP Aaron Laffey
The Angels seem to have it all going for them now including a terrific season from rookie left fielder Mike Trout. The Angels should press the Texas Rangers for the division title and if they fail in that regard they look to be a lock to claim one of the two wild-card spots. The Jays can't match their starting pitching right now and that will be the difference in this series.
The Halos are the hottest team in baseball while the Jays are still trying to hold their rotation together with wire and duct tape. For that reason the Jays would have to be overjoyed to come out of the four games with a split. But we don't think they'll get it and we're looking for L.A. to win three of four.
ANGELS WHO'S HOT
- SS Erik Aybar is on an 11-game hitting streak, in which he has gone 16-for-39 (.410) and in June is hitting .321 (26-for-81) overall.
- RHP Ernesto Frieri is 9-for-9 in save situations and has made 22 consecutive scoreless relief appearances.
- LHP Scott Downs, a former Blue Jay, leads all major-league relievers with a 0.36 ERA having allowed just one earned run over 25 1/3 innings. He is also 6-for-6 in save situations.
ANGELS WHO'S COLD
- DH/INF Kendrys Morales is one of the few Angels not to have heated up. He is in a 5-for-34 drought (.147).
- 3B Maicer Izturis is in a 7-for-36 (.194) rut that includes a stretch in which he went 0-for-12.
- 1B Albert Pujols went 2-for-5 with a home run Tuesday in Baltimore. But prior to that on the Angels' nine-game home stand he went 7-for-32 (.219)