It marked the eighth time this season Trout and Ohtani have gone deep in the same game, and the 22nd since the two became teammates in 2018.
“It never gets old,” starter Patrick Sandoval, who threw five innings of one-run ball, said of watching his All-Star teammates leaving the park. “We love homers here … for our team.”
Wednesday was originally supposed to be a day off for Trout, but the three-time American League MVP said his body felt good enough to play. His bat backed that up, as he went 2-for-4 with a home run, a single and a walk.
“He likes playing at home. We’ve got an off-day tomorrow,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “But you’ll probably see one of these games — I mean, I know I said that the other day, too — but you’ll probably see one [day off] on this [upcoming six-game road] trip that he’ll get.”
The effort continued a recent hot streak for Trout, who continues to prove he’s feeling healthy after not playing from July 13-Aug. 18 due to an upper back/rib cage injury. In 18 games since his return, he’s batted .309 with eight home runs.
Trout’s solo shot in the bottom of the fifth — No. 32 on the season for him, on a fastball at the bottom of the zone — made it four straight games with a home run for the center fielder, tying a career-best streak. He previously homered in four consecutive games from May 12-15, 2017, and April 4-7, 2019.
When asked what’s behind such streaks, Trout shrugged and said, “It just happens.”
Trout’s homer briefly tied Ohtani for the team lead. That lasted just three innings, until Ohtani came to bat with the game tied in the bottom of the seventh. After working into a favorable count by taking two low sinkers, the two-way star connected with a third one on the inner part of the plate, sending his 33rd homer of the year a Statcast-projected 401 feet to center field.
“A lot of people, especially the last couple of days, they’re saying we’re pushing each other for the [team] home run lead,” Trout said. “I think that’s pretty cool. I’m not trying to go up there and hit a home run, and he isn’t, either. It’s just having good at-bats and putting good swings on balls.”
All four of the Angels’ runs came via the long ball, with catcher Matt Thaiss first putting them on the board via a two-run blast in the fourth inning. It was his first home run of the season, and his first in the Majors since Sept. 9, 2020.
Thaiss, who began his second stint with the Angels this year on Aug. 25, has found playing time a bit difficult to come by on a team that also carries Max Stassi and Kurt Suzuki (as well as Chad Wallach, with Suzuki on the bereavement list). But Nevin suggested that the caliber of Thaiss’ play in limited chances may earn him more opportunities.
“He’s impressing me behind the plate,” Nevin said. “His calling game, blocking balls, really working well with our pitchers, studying everything. But he’s really swinging the bat well. The home run was obviously huge for us at that moment. Another base hit after that. His timing is good, his barrel’s to the ball a lot, and I like what I see.”
Unfortunately for the Angels, the ball was also traveling for the Tigers. Catcher Eric Haase hit a solo home run to open the scoring in the top of the fourth, while rookies Kerry Carpenter and Ryan Kreidler hit game-tying and go-ahead shots off José Quijada in the top of the ninth, dashing the Angels’ hopes for a series sweep.
With a first-pitch temperature of 99 degrees for a middle-of-the-week day game, Nevin pointed to a lack of crowd energy to feed off of as something that might have gotten to Quijada.
“We’re looking at 91-92 mph and when Q’s at his best, it’s well above that,” Nevin said. “High ride up in the zone, and those balls were down further in the zone than we’d like. … He certainly is an emotional guy, feeds off of that, and you’ve got to find a way to bottle that up. It doesn’t matter if there’s nobody here or a full crowd. To come in and close a one-run game, we need everything he can give.”