Monday, April 6, 2015

Trout opens season with big fly, incredible catch

Mike Trout's 2014 season -- you know, the one that led to a unanimous selection for the American League Most Valuable Player Award -- consisted of an increase in home runs and strikeouts.
His 2015 season began that way, too.
Trout started Monday's game with a first-inning homer off Mariners ace Felix Hernandez -- just like on Opening Day 2014, though this time at Safeco Field instead of Angel Stadium -- and ended it by robbing Logan Morrison of a home run in the eighth.
In between, though, were three strikeouts, the last of which came while representing the tying run in the top of the eighth.
The 23-year-old had 13 three-plus-strikeout games last year, on his way to an AL-high 184 -- the most ever by an MVP. Trout worked to refine his two-strike approach in Spring Training and has vowed to cut those punchouts down in 2015, perhaps to the 138 he averaged from '12-13.
He still can, of course. Just not on Day 1.
"I had good pitches to hit early in the count; just pulled off a couple," Trout said after the Angels' 4-1 loss. "Some of the pitches, I should've hit and ended up fouling them off. And the strikeouts, I just chased a couple pitches. It was the first game. I like to get all the jitters out and go from there."
Trout's first-inning homer -- a towering shot to straightaway center field on a 2-2 sinker that caught too much of the plate -- made him the first Angels player with home runs on back-to-back Opening Days since Jeff Mathis in 2010-11. He's faced Hernandez more than any other pitcher and entered Monday with a .367/.389/.633 slash line and two homers in 54 appearances against him.
After Trout's homer, though, only three of 22 Angels hitters reached base against Hernandez safely. Trout's homer may have lit a fire in the Mariners' ace.
"I'm sure he wasn't happy he gave it up, but he had his best stuff today," Trout said. "The majority of the time he goes out there, he has his best stuff. That's why he's a good pitcher."

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