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Angels manager's small-ball approach takes bat from Mike Trout's hands

September 21, 2013|By Mike DiGiovanna
  • Mike Trout hits a broken-bat single in the fourth inning of the Angels' 3-2 extra inning victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday.
Mike Trout hits a broken-bat single in the fourth inning of the Angels'… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )

It all worked out in the end for the Angels on Friday night, as Chris Iannetta drove a two-out single off the left-center field wall in the 11th inning to score Kole Calhoun from first base for a 3-2 walk-off victory over the Seattle Mariners.

Matt Shoemaker allowed only two hits in five scoreless innings in his major league debut, and Dane De La Rosa, Ernesto Frieri, Juan Gutierrez and Cory Rasmus each threw scoreless relief innings to help the Angels win for the 20th time in 27 games and prevent them from being mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.

But critics of Manager Mike Scioscia’s small-ball tendencies were probably howling in the 10th inning when J.B. Shuck led off with a walk and Scioscia had Howie Kendrick, who had doubled in his previous at-bat and is hitting .304, bunt, a move that took that bat out of the hands of Mike Trout, the team’s best hitter.

Seattle Manager Eric Wedge summoned left-hander Bobby LaFromboise, who got Josh Hamilton to ground into an inning-ending, 4-6-3 double play.

Scioscia said he knew the Mariners would walk Trout — they did the same thing after Kendrick’s leadoff double in the eighth — but he felt confident with the way Hamilton and Mark Trumbo were swinging that one of them would come through with a game-winning hit.

“We were looking for a base hit to win a game; we don’t want to sit back and always have Mike try to split a gap or hit a home run,” Scioscia said. “Where we were in the game, we were good with either Josh or Mark finding a hole and getting a hit, and that’s what we needed.”

Trout is having another most-valuable-player-caliber season, hitting .330 with a .436 on-base percentage, .569 slugging percentage, 26 home runs, 92 runs batted in, 108 runs and 102 walks.

Hamilton is batting .245 with 148 strikeouts and 15 double-play grounders but entered Friday with a .328 (45 for 137) average in his previous 36 games. Trumbo is hitting .238 with 34 homers, 98 RBIs, 169 strikeouts and 18 double-play grounders and had five homers, five doubles and 14 RBIs in 15 games.

“We’ve looked at it, and there are definitely times with Mike where you want him to swing the bat,” Scioscia said. “Josh being as hot as he’s been, Mark swinging the bat well, I think the better position for us there was to put one of those guys up there trying to get a single rather than Mike trying to drive the ball to win a game. We felt good with someone finding a hole.”

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