Angels outfielder Mark Trumbo is congratulated by third base coach Dino… (Paul Sancya / Associated…)
DETROIT — Mike Scioscia finally made the move that made sense to so many others, flip-flopping Kendrys Morales and Mark Trumbo in the fourth and fifth spots against an American League right-handed pitcher for Tuesday night’s game against the Detroit Tigers.
It marked the first time Trumbo batted cleanup against a right-hander with Morales in the same lineup. Trumbo, who has been hitting fourth against left-handers, hit cleanup against five right-handers in National League parks.
Trumbo has clearly earned the promotion. He entered Tuesday with a league-leading .625 slugging percentage, he ranked fourth with 25 home runs, seventh with 62 runs batted in and fifth with 43 extra-base hits. An All-Star, Trumbo also had a .309 average and .361 on-base percentage.
He hit a three-run home run to left-center field to highlight a four-run first inning against the Tigers.
But Scioscia gave the impression that the switch had as much to do with Morales’ struggles as it did with Trumbo’s emergence as one of baseball’s best young sluggers.
Morales, who returned this season after missing a year and a half because of a broken left ankle, entered Tuesday with a .281 average, eight homers and 33 RBIs — far off the pace of his last full season, when he hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBIs. He had one homer and 10 RBIs in his previous 26 games.
“We all feel like Kendrys is pressing a bit,” Scioscia said. “He’s not very comfortable in the box. It doesn’t look like he’s attacking the ball like he can. This will take a little pressure off Kendrys, and we put a guy in there who is obviously a game-changer.”
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