Mark Trumbo works with hitting coach Jim Eppard before a game against the… (Jeff Kowalsky / EPA )
The Angels had a chance to do some damage against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night when, in a 1-1 game, Kendrys Morales led off the bottom of the fourth inning with a single and took second when shortstop Stephen Drew bobbled Erick Aybar’s one-out grounder for an error.
Up stepped Mark Trumbo, whose first-half power, along with Mike Trout’s emergence as one of the top young players in the game, helped lead the Angels out of their season-opening six-week funk in which they went 18-25.
But Trumbo, as he has done too often over the last six weeks, failed to deliver. He grounded to third baseman Josh Donaldson, who threw to second to start an inning-ending double play, and the A’s went on to beat the Angels, 3-1, in the opener of a critical four-game series.
Trumbo made his first All-Star team and was batting .306 with 27 home runs and 69 runs batted in on July 28, but he is hitting .174 (24 for 138) with three homers, 14 RBIs and 58 strikeouts in his last 36 games, his average dropping to .269.
Trumbo has already lost some playing time to veteran Vernon Wells in left field, and Manager Mike Scioscia now must choose between giving Trumbo enough at-bats to work his way out of his slump and starting players -- Wells or speedy outfielder Peter Bourjos -- who give the Angels, who are fighting for a playoff spot, the best chance to win.
“There are a finite amount of games right now,” Scioscia said. “With a guy like Trum, it’s a Catch-22. He has to go out there and swing, and right now, his struggles are taking some at-bats away from him.
“When he finds it, he usually keeps it, and it can come quickly for him. We need him, and we’ll definitely give him enough chances to get there with the option of spotting Vernon or some other guys to give us a little boost if he continues to struggle.”
Angels are slowed down by the A's in 3-1 loss
Reality calls: It's time for Dodgers to set sights on Cardinals
Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw has sore hip, scheduled to start Tuesday