ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Mike Trout’s bat is a major reason the Los Angeles Angels have the best record in baseball and appear destined to end a four-year postseason drought.
Trout tied a career high with his 30th home run, Gordon Beckham homered for the first time with his new club, and the Angels improved to 79-53 with a 6-1 victory over the Miami Marlins on Wednesday night.
“It’s always cool to reach 30. But we have other things in our minds, like trying to reach the playoffs,” Trout said. “We’re still got a month left, so the only thing that’s important is winning games.”
Trout, who leads the majors with 71 extra-base hits and 283 total bases, chased Miami starter Henderson Alvarez in the seventh inning with a one-out drive into the trees beyond the center field fence to make it 5-1.
“I feel good at the plate and I’m not chasing too many pitches,” Trout said. “When I get in trouble, I get too anxious and I chase. But the last couple of games I’ve been feeling good. I don’t try to hit home runs. I just try to put good swings on the ball and hope for the best. I’ve just been barreling some balls and they’ve gone over the fence.”
Hector Santiago (4-7) ended a string of six consecutive no-decisions in a starting role, helping the Angels maintain their one-game lead in the AL West over Oakland.
Santiago struck out six in 5 2-3 innings and allowed three hits, including Adeiny Hechavarria’s leadoff homer in the third, his sixth in 1,100 career at-bats to that point. The left-hander fanned his next five batters and didn’t allow another hit until Jeff Baker’s two-out single in the sixth.
Alvarez (10-6) gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings after winning his previous four starts. The right-hander had pitched shutouts in his previous three interleague starts.
The Angels took the lead with three runs in the third. Trout hit an RBI single, Kole Calhoun scored on Albert Pujols’ groundout, and Josh Hamilton lined an RBI double off the center field fence. Hamilton missed his first homer at Angel Stadium this season by just a few feet.
“That’s a really good lineup. Those guys grind you out,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “You get two strikes on them and they battle and put the ball in play. They have speed, they have power, they’ve got it all. We’ve got to be able to slug with them, and we just couldn’t do that. We got down early and we couldn’t get much going offensively.”
Hamilton has nine RBIs in his last eight games, following an 11-game stretch in which he had none in 41 at-bats and struck out 18 times.
“I finally stopped trying to figure out mechanical things. I think the biggest breakthrough for me was realizing it – that it’s not mechanical,” Hamilton said. “I go up there now and do what I’ve always done. I think I’m at a point right now where, OK, I’ve got a month left. Can I be the player I want to be? Can I be the player they paid me to be? Yeah, I can. How am I going to approach that? I’m going to take it one game at a time and continue to remind myself to cut it loose.”
Marlins: RHP Bryan Morris, who hasn’t pitched since Saturday because of a groin strain, will remain in Miami and receive treatment for a couple of days before his status is re-evaluated.
Angels: INF Grant Green, who hasn’t played since July 20 because of a back problem, is with Triple-A Salt Lake on a rehab assignment. The club is waiting to see how his back responds before activating him once the rosters expand to 40 on Sept. 1.
Marlins: Tom Koehler (9-9, 3.82 ERA) pitches the opener of a three-game series at Atlanta on Friday night against Ervin Santana, who has won his last six starts at Turner Field – including a 6-1 verdict against Miami’s Nathan Eovaldi on July 23.
Angels: C.J. Wilson (10-8, 4.59 ERA) opposes Sonny Gray (13-7) Thursday night in the opener of a critical four-game set against the Athletics at the “Big A.” The Angels dropped two of three at Oakland last weekend, including Gray’s 5-3 victory.