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Mark Trumbo takes advantage of mistake pitch in Angels' 5-1 win over Twins

Rookie first baseman crushes a 457-foot, three-run home run on a pitch that wasn't supposed to be hit. Ervin Santana goes the distance.

August 02, 2011|By Mike DiGiovanna

It was supposed to be a waste pitch for Brian Duensing, an 0-and-2 fastball the Minnesota Twins left-hander tried to elevate out of the strike zone in hopes of getting Mark Trumbo to chase.

Two little problems: The pitch, although letter high, wasn't high enough, and it certainly wasn't fast enough. The Angels first baseman pulverized it, sending it half-way up the rock pile beyond the center-field wall for a three-run home run.

Trumbo's fourth-inning shot traveled an estimated 457 feet, the longest in Angel Stadium this season, even longer than Josh Hamilton's 449-foot blast for the Texas Rangers on July 19, and it pushed the Angels toward a 5-1 victory over the Twins.

"He wanted to go up top — he wasn't trying to throw a strike there," said Trumbo, who leads the team with 20 home runs and 58 runs batted in. "I've always liked that high pitch, ever since T-ball. I know a lot of people get on me for swinging at it, but every once in a while, it pays off."

Trumbo's home run, as well as Torii Hunter's solo shot in the fifth inning, helped move the Angels within one game of the first-place Rangers in the American League West.

The power burst also made a winner of Ervin Santana, who followed Wednesday's no-hitter in Cleveland with another complete game, the 12th of his career, an eight-hitter with seven strikeouts that improved him to 7-8 with a 3.32 earned-run average.

After Santana struck out Delmon Young with a 94-mph fastball for the second out of the ninth, bench coach Rob Picciolo, filling in for suspended Manager Mike Scioscia, went to the mound to ask the right-hander how he felt.

"He said he was great," Picciolo said. "I told him this was his last batter. One pitch later, he was out of the inning."

Santana got Tsuyosho Nishioka to ground to shortstop, completing a game in which he threw 121 pitches, 78 for strikes.

"I wasn't tired in the ninth," Santana said. "I was throwing gas."

Santana is the first Angel to follow a no-hitter with a complete game since Nolan Ryan in 1975 and the first major leaguer to do so since Tommy Greene in 1991. He is 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA in his last nine starts.

"I'm doing the same things I've been doing all year," Santana said.

So is Trumbo, a strong rookie-of-the-year candidate who is the sixth Angels rookie and first since Tim Salmon in 1993 to hit 20 home runs in a season.

"He crushed that ball — that was a missile," Picciolo said of Trumbo. "He watches every pitch from the rail, he studies pitchers, he knows pitchers, and his defense has improved as well. I hate to think where we'd be without him this year."

The score was tied, 1-1, when Vernon Wells led off the fourth with a walk, Howie Kendrick doubled to right, and with first base open, the Twins pitched to Trumbo, who blasted a home run that gave the Angels a 4-1 lead and left Duensing scratching his head.

"I looked at the video, and I threw it exactly where I wanted to throw it, but I guess it was the wrong pitch," Duensing said. "I don't know if he knew if it was coming, or what. He sure acted like it. You've got to tip your hat to him. Even if they know it's coming, they've still got to hit it, and he hit it a long ways."

mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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