Mike Trout had never hit a game-ending home run before Thursday night. Really? It seemed like Trout had done everything in his young career except win the MVP. But his three-run blast with no outs in the bottom of the ninth to give the Los Angeles Angels a 6-5 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays was a first for him.
As soon as Trout strolled to the plate against rookie Brad Boxberger, you had a feeling he was going to go deep. Down by three runs, the Angels had started a rally against Rays closer Grant Balfour, with Hank Conger and Efren Navarro each drawing a walk to start the ninth. Collin Cowgill followed with an RBI single to make it 5-3 and put runners at the corners.
Rays manager Joe Maddon replaced Balfour with Boxberger. Maddon later said he didn't like how Balfour seemed to be pitching around everybody, and he didn't want the game to end like the one at Chicago when White Sox slugger Jose Abreu took Balfour deep for a game-ending slam in late April.
Whoops. Different pitcher, similar result. With a 1-1 count, Trout turned on a flat-looking 81 mph breaking pitch and sent it well over the fence in left. Game over.
Angel Stadium lost its collective mind as Trout rounded the bases. Fire literally shot from the Earth. A random cat appeared on field, and then, the scoreboard. Has the Rally Monkey been replaced? It was bedlam.
He good...... He real good
— Hank Conger (@HankConger16) May 16, 2014
Never mind what happened to Kendrys Morales when he tried it, Trout jumped in the air and stomped on home plate like he was Neil Armstrong doing kung fu on the moon. Angels teammates clawed at his jersey and ripped it from his torso (and probably tried to give him a secret wedgie). It looked just like when those groupies on the "Brady Bunch" ripped Greg Brady's clothes because he was the new Johnny Bravo.
Dynamite, man, dynamite. Trout also showed great closing speed to make a diving catch in the first inning. He really is the complete fish.
Meanwhile, the Angels improved to 22-18 and the Rays, who looked like they were getting their legs (fins?) after a rough start, fell to 18-24.
Maddon said Balfour would be back in the closing role Friday if he's needed. But with all of the feral cats and monkeys and dingoes and Trouts permeating Angel Stadium, is it safe for any opponent right now?
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