Reporting from Baltimore — The Angels are a long way from giving up on the present. But Sunday they took a good, long look at what could be their future just the same.
And that future looks awfully bright.
Just ask the Baltimore Orioles, who were kept on the ropes for seven innings by right-hander Tyler Chatwood before center fielder Mike Trout delivered the knockout blow with a three-run, eighth-inning home run in a 9-3 Angels win at Camden Yards.
For Chatwood, who only recently turned old enough to drink, it was arguably the most complete outing of his rookie season. For Trout, the youngest player in the majors, the homer was the first by a teenager in the big leagues since 2007.
It was enough to make 52-year-old Manager Mike Scioscia, who played his last game before Trout had mastered walking, feel young again.
Neither player figured in the Angels plans this season.
But Chatwood, called up in early April for what was expected to be a cameo appearance, seized a spot in the rotation. Sunday he went seven innings for the third time in his last six starts, dropping his earned-run average over that span to 2.48.
Among Angels starters, only Jered Weaver has a better ERA in his last six starts.
"I don't think we've seen him as crisp. He had great stuff," Scioscia said of Chatwood (6-6), who didn't walk a batter for the first time this season. He made only one mistake, giving up a two-run home run to Adam Jones in the sixth.
Now Trout, promoted from double A 21/2 weeks ago when Peter Bourjos was sidelined by hamstring tightness, is trying to make a case that he should stay too. Friday, he had his first two-hit game in the majors and also stole his first base. Then Sunday, with the Angels clinging to a one-run lead, he lined a shot deep into the left-center-field bleachers.
"Mike's been doing something every game," Scioscia said. "You have to keep pinching yourself and telling yourself this kid's 19."
Trout had a little bit of a home-field advantage since he grew up only two hours from Baltimore. As a result, he said, a couple hundred friends and family members attended the three-game series here, with his parents and girlfriend in attendance Sunday.
"My parents, I think that's [my] first home run they've seen in pro ball," said Trout, adding it was a feeling that "can't be described in words."
The Angels said the ball was caught by Zack Hample, a 33-year-old New York collector who claims to have snagged more than 5,000 baseballs at various ballparks, experiences he shares in three books.
Hample asked for a picture and an autograph in exchange for this baseball, which Trout quickly handed over to his parents.
Whether he'll get a chance to collect any more mementos this season is up to Scioscia, who originally thought Trout's visit would be a short one.
Now he's not so sure.
"If there's an appreciable role for anybody that's going to help us to be a better team, a more complete team, they'll be on our team," he said. "This guy's advanced physically and mentally, but he still hasn't played a long season.
"He needs to play every day."