Angels-Yankees Preview

The Associated Press

It's surprising that Derek Jeter leads the league in hits at the age of 38.

The fact that 20-year-old Mike Trout is leading the AL batting race is probably more surprising.

The New Jersey-born Trout will make his first appearance at Yankee Stadium on Friday night when the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees open a three-game set.

Despite an age that would suggest he's in the twilight of his career for New York (52-33), Jeter has 12 hits in his last 28 at-bats to raise his total to 111.

Trout, meanwhile, is in the ascendancy with a .341 average to become the front-runner for AL rookie of the year honors.

The center fielder has 12 homers, 40 RBIs and 26 stolen bases in 64 games since being recalled April 28 from Triple-A Salt Lake. Trout's callup came two weeks after the Angels lost two of three in the Bronx from April 13-15, and Los Angeles (48-38) is 40-24 since his season debut.

"He's not playing over his head," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's just a young player who's playing to his potential at a very, very young age, and that's rare.''

Trout drove in four runs and made some spectacular catches in the outfield as the Angels took two of three at home from the Yankees from May 28-30 to even the season series at three games apiece.

The Yankees will also have to be wary of Mark Trumbo, who is 9 for 18 with four homers, seven runs scored and seven RBIs in five games against them.

Trout has never faced New York right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (8-7, 3.50 ERA), who earned his first win with the Yankees on April 13 with eight stellar innings in a 5-0 victory over the Angels. Kuroda is 6-3 with a 2.56 ERA in nine home starts.

New York is an AL-best 18-11 against left-handed starters, but one of those losses came against the Angels' C.J. Wilson (9-5, 2.43). Wilson, who will be on the mound again Friday, yielded one run over six innings April 14 to earn a 7-1 victory.

Jeter owns a .389 career average against Wilson, and Robinson Cano is at .350. Alex Rodriguez (1 for 16), Mark Teixeira (1 for 12) and Curtis Granderson (2 for 11) have all fared poorly.

Andruw Jones is 0 for 9 off Wilson, but had four homers in his last three games before the All-Star break.

Cano is batting .393 with five homers and 16 RBIs over a 15-game hitting streak, but is 5 for 24 against the Angels this year.

Jeter owns a team-high .333 average in the season series, and he's happy that the Yankees have overcome injuries to the pitching staff to post baseball's best first-half record.

"We have a lot of guys step up, and our bullpen has been great and our stars have been good," Jeter said. "Coming off the bench, when you need all 25 players, sometimes you need a few more and we've definitely used a lot."

The Yankees are a major league-best 21-8 since June 8, but the Angels are 19-9 in that stretch to match Texas for the second-best mark. Los Angeles leads the wild-card race, and trails the Rangers by four games in the West.

"We're playing at a high level over the last six weeks, and that makes you feel good about the rest of the year," Scioscia said.

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