By Pete Zarustica
On the same night that Mike Trout received pre-game honors as the 2016 American League MVP, he drew a big red line underneath the words “most valuable” when he hammered a two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning that was the difference in the Los Angeles Angels’ 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners Saturday at the Big A.
The crowd of over 42,000 fans roared as the centerfielder launched the deep drive to left center that broke a 3-3 tie and lifted the Angels alone into first in the AL West with a 4-2 mark. After dropping their opener in Oakland last week, the Halos have won four of five.
“I just got a good pitch to hit and I didn’t miss it,” Trout said. “Accepting the awards, it means a lot. It was a special night for me, and obviously with the ‘W,’ it’s even bigger.” Trout was also honored as a Silver Slugger, which taps the best offensive player at each position.
The Mariners (3-3) went ahead 2-0 in the first on Mitch Haniger’s home run off Ricky Nolasco, but the Angels rallied to take a 3-2 lead later. Seattle knotted the score in the top of the seventh with an RBI single by Mike Zunino that set up Trout’s heroics.
He was not the only hero for the Halos. Cam Bedrosian struck out four batters to close the game and pick up the save.
“I think what Cam Bedrosian did is probably the highlight tonight,” Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said. “Coming in there in the middle of the order, minimizing damage and holding the lead in the eighth and getting obviously the clean ninth for the save, that was important.”
Nolasco had a strong start, working six innings and yielding four hits and two runs.
At bat, Yunel Escobar continued his hot start, going 3-for-4 to raise his average to .417. Albert Pujols broke out of his protracted slump with a three-hit night.
Another highlight of the evening was the 14-pitch battle between Trout and Mariner starter Felix Hernandez that ended with the M’s pitcher finally getting the strikeout.
Action will resume Sunday as Matt Shoemaker makes the start for the Orange County team.