Already the owner of two American League Most Valuable Player awards by age 25, Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout is showing there’s always room for improvement.
Trout is having the best offensive month of his major-league career heading into the second game of a four-game series against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
The Angels (40-35) won the series opener 8-5 on Thursday night at Angel Stadium, getting two home runs from Luis Valbuena and another from Kole Calhoun for the second straight game.
Trout went 0-for-2 but drew three walks and scored two runs against the Blue Jays (34-40).
Trout is hitting .433 in June with five home runs and 12 RBIs. His on-base percentage rose to .471 for the season.
Trout’s previous best batting average for a month was .392 in July of 2012, his first full season in the majors. He also had 10 home runs and 23 RBIs during that stretch.
A big difference in Trout’s game this season has been his walk-to-strikeout ratio. He had 12 walks and 21 strikeouts in July 2012 but has 17 walks and 13 strikeouts so far this month.
“I’m just trying to look for my pitch, and if it’s not there, I’m just taking my walks,” Trout told reporters earlier this week. “For me, if I try to expand the strike zone, that’s when I get in trouble.”
Trout has also done well in his career against Toronto’s scheduled starter on Friday night, Marco Estrada. Trout is 4-for-10 with two home runs off the right-hander.
Estrada (4-6, 4.66 ERA) will try to stay on a roll after winning his past two starts. He went eight consecutive outings without earning a win before this latest stretch.
His last start may have been his best of the season. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in a 2-0 win on Saturday against the visiting Washington Nationals, out-dueling right-hander Max Scherzer, who leads the National League with 10 wins.
Estrada faced the visiting Angels during his winless stretch four weeks ago and surrendered four runs and seven hits in 4 1/3 innings. Toronto went on to lose 8-1.
Estrada is 1-2 in his career against the Angels with a 6.95 ERA, his highest against any AL team.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols is 4-for-10 in his career against Estrada, and shortstop Andrelton Simmons is 6-for-12.
“For four years now, every single day, when Marco Estrada’s time comes around, he gives all he has,” Toronto second baseman Devon Travis told Sportsnet after the win against the Nationals last weekend.
Angels starter Andrew Heaney was matched against Estrada in his only career appearance against the Blue Jays and it didn’t go well for the left-hander. He gave up eight runs in 3 1/3 innings of the 15-3 loss in Anaheim on Aug. 22, 2015.
Heaney (3-5, 3.64) was in line to win his last outing after allowing three runs and three hits in eight innings against the Oakland A’s on Sunday, but the bullpen gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth before Oakland won in the 11th.