Mike Trout slides safely into third base in front of Colorado third baseman… (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images )
DENVER — — The pun was not intended. In fact, General Manager Jerry Dipoto didn't realize his play on words as he spoke about Mike Trout, the dynamic 20-year-old outfielder whose lethal bat, blazing speed and kinetic energy have given the Angels a much-needed jolt.
"We were all aware of how good a player Mike could be, and the fact he's doing these things now is fantastic," Dipoto said. "But I won't say it's a surprise, because when you take a fish and throw it in the water, it swims. And that's all Mike is doing. He's got the skills, the ability, the maturity to swim. He's just swimming."
Like Michael Phelps, he's swimming.
Trout hit three singles, scored three runs, drove in two runs and stole two bases Saturday to lead the Angels to an 11-5 interleague victory over the Colorado Rockies in Coors Field, improving his average to .349 and his on-base percentage to .404. It was Trout's 17th multihit game of the season.
Albert Pujols homered and drove in four runs, and Torii Hunter, Howie Kendrick and Alberto Callaspo each had three hits, as the Angels improved to a major league-best 65-30 in interleague play since 2007 and cut the Texas Rangers' American League West lead to three games.
The Angels were relentless on offense, pounding out 15 hits, 14 of them singles, and scoring in six of nine innings to offset the Rockies' five solo homers. Trout, the team's leadoff hitter, seemed to be in the middle of all of it.
Twice, he went from first to third on singles. After leading off the fourth with a single, he stole second with a head-first dive and third with a feet-first slide on consecutive pitches.
"He's brought a lot of energy to the lineup, to the club," Pujols said. "He's getting on base, stealing, and it seems like every time he's on base, he scores. It's pretty awesome. It's been a long time since we've seen a young player like that know what he needs to do at the plate and play the game the right way."
Angels right-hander Dan Haren, who gutted out a 51/3-inning, four-run, 10-hit effort to earn the win Saturday, can appreciate Trout's effect on the bases.
"He causes havoc," Haren said. "When a guy like him is on first, you worry about him. You slide-step, you try to be quicker to home, and the ball can be up."
Trout was named AL rookie of the month in May, when he hit .324 (35 for 108) with five homers, six doubles, 16 runs batted in, 21 runs and eight stolen bases. All he's done in June is hit .515 (17 for 33) with 10 runs, eight RBIs and five stolen bases in eight games.
He leads the team with 31 runs despite playing most of April at triple A. He would rank second in the league in average and fifth in OBP if he had enough at-bats to qualify.
"He's played as good as anyone in the league since he's been called up," Haren said. "He's a huge reason why we've come back in the division."
The Angels were 6-14 before Trout was promoted from Salt Lake on April 27. They are 25-15 since and have trimmed six games off the Rangers' lead.
"You have to step back and realize this is a 20-year-old kid," Manager Mike Scioscia said. "For him to be this advanced at such a young age and producing so well in the major leagues gives us a lot of confidence that he's going to be an impact player in our lineup for a long time."