Mike Trout’s slump worsens as Astros pulls out 20 and chases Angels away

Jeremy Pena of Houston Astros, right, hits a two-run walk-off home run as Los Angeles Angels catcher Max Stassi reaches for the field during the ninth inning of a baseball game on Sunday, July 3, 2022 in Houston.  The Astros won 4-2.  (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Jeremy Pena of Houston Astros, right, hits a two-run walk-off homerun as Angels-catcher Max Stassi reaches the field in Sunday’s ninth inning in Houston. The Astros won 4-2. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Mike Forel saw a low sinker grazed the outside corner of the strike zone in the third inning on Sunday, again whipped into a weekend full of strikeouts.

Before he trudged back to the dugout, he made a face that seemed to scream, Yikes!

The Angels star went 0 for 11 with nine strikeouts in a three game run and Los Angeles hitters fanned out 20 times on Sunday as the Houston Astros won 4-2 for a wipe.

“Mike Trout is a future Hall of Famer. He’ll come by,” said Angels acting interim manager Bill Haselman. “It’s too long a season to never have any problems. And everyone goes through it, even the best in the game. And he’s going through it now and we’re confident he’ll get out of it.”

Rookie Jeremy Pena homered twice, crowned with a two-run drive with two outs in the ninth inning off Ryan Tepera (1-2) to take the win.

Forel struckout seven in a row in the first two games. In the final, the three-time AL MVP reached base in his first at bat on an error by Pena at shortstop before striking out in his next two at bats.

Trout popped out in his last at bat to extend his slip to 0 for 14.

“This guy, when he’s on, is like a one-man wrecking crew,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker. “We put him down hard and I’m sure he will make the adjustment if we get there really quickly.”

Trout is having another strong season, hitting .272 with 23 home runs and 47 RBIs, despite his second long slump of the year — he was a career-worst 0 for 26 before ending that drought on June 6.

Trout was far from the only Angel to struggle at the plate, as Houston-starter Framber Valdez and three relievers tied the Major League-record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Twelve different Angels batters came to the plate and they all struckout at least once.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani swings out while Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado holds onto the ball.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani swings out as Houston Astros-catcher Martin Maldonado holds onto the ball during Sunday’s fifth inning in Houston. (David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

“Guys are working on it, but it’s really hard when you see so many of them going through it at once,” said batting coach Jeremy Reed. “Usually it’s a guy here, a guy there, and the next one picks him up. But there’s just a lot of guys wrestling at the same time.”

Valdez hit a career-high 13 in six innings, giving up two runs on three hits and five walks. Relievers Hector Neris and Rafael Montero each hit two in a scoreless inning and Ryan Pressly (2-2) fanned out three in the ninth.

There were several occasions when teams took out 20, including appearances from Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. The Astros’ previous record was 18 in 1964 against Cincinnati.

Houston pitchers fanned out 47 in the series against the Angels.

Pena had four hits. In the ninth, Jose Altuve singled with two outs and Pena followed with his 11th homerun.

Pena hit a solo home run in the fourth off Jose Suarez.

Luis Rengifo homered in second in the Angels. Shohei Ohtani hit an RBI single in the third.

Altuve had an RBI single in the fifth to make it 2-all.

Haselman, the team’s coach, was the acting interim manager of the Angels on Sunday, while Ray Montgomery, who was the acting interim manager, and interim manager Phil Nevin served their suspensions for last week’s bench-clearing brawl. with the Marines. Haselman will also manage Tuesday’s game, while Montgomery serves the second game of his suspension.

Sunday was the sixth game of Nevin’s 10-game suspension.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times

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