Angels slugger Mark Trumbo checks his swing during a game against the Red… (Paul Buck / EPA )
OAKLAND — Mark Trumbo is in a prolonged slump in which he’s hit .187 (23 for 122) with three home runs, 14 runs batted in and 51 strikeouts in his last 31 games, but he remained in the cleanup spot for the opener of a crucial three-game series against the Oakland Athletics Monday.
“The thing about Mark is we’ve seen him have rough at-bats, rough days, and bounce right back whether it’s the fourth at-bat of a game or the next day, and hit it,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “Right now, his presence is important. If we have to adjust we’ll look at some things.
“But against left-handers, I think Mark, even though he’s in a little downturn right now, he gives us the best chance of getting Albert [Pujols] some pitches, and hopefully Mark will get productive again.”
Trumbo is batting .276 with a team-leading 30 homers and 83 RBIs on the season, but his strikeouts have risen steadily and his walks have dropped off dramatically since the All-Star break, when Trumbo was hitting .306 with 22 homers.
He has been particularly vulnerable to nasty breaking balls down and away from right-handers, though that hardly puts him in exclusive company. Most big right-handed power hitters struggle with those pitches.
“At times he’s expanded the zone and gotten into trouble, and times he’s expanded the zone and hit the ball hard,” Scioscia said. “It’s not an easy thing. You have to find the balance between being aggressive and finding the kind of plate discipline you’re comfortable with to get into good counts.
“That’s a fragile balance for any hitter. It’s not as easy saying, ‘Get plate discipline, swing at strikes.’ If guarantee if you tell 99% of the hitters that in baseball, all of a sudden, you’ve created a defensive hitter. And that’s not what we want.”
The Angels lineup: CF Mike Trout, RF Torii Hunter, DH Albert Pujols, 1B Mark Trumbo, 2B Howie Kendrick, SS Erick Aybar, 3B Alberto Callaspo, LF Vernon Wells, C Chris Iannetta, LHP C.J. Wilson.
The A’s lineup: CF Coco Crisp, LF Jonny Gomes, RF Josh Reddick, DH Yoenis Cespedes, 1B Chris Carter, 3B Josh Donaldson, C Derek Norris, SS Stephen Drew, 2B Adam Rosales, LHP Tommy Milone.
Texas State upset special was a special upset
Maurice Jones-Drew back at work, has no regrets
Luke Donald gets a full dose of Twitter in his face