Mike Trout’s slump gets worse as the Astros go 20 and sweep the Angels with a shutout

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

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

Mike Trout watched a dropped leg graze the outer corner of the strike zone in Sunday’s third inning, once again elevated to a strikeout-filled weekend.

Before returning to the dugout, he made a face that seemed to scream: Yes!

The Angels star went 0-11 with nine hits in a three-game hitting streak and Los Angeles hitters fanned a total of 20 times on Sunday as the Houston Astros won 4-2 for a sweep.

“Mike Trout is a future Hall of Famer. It’s going to be close,” Angels interim manager Bill Haselman said. “It’s too long a season to never have matches. And everyone goes through it, even the best in the game. And he’s going through it right now and we’re sure he’ll come out of it.”

Rookie Jeremy Peña homered twice, with a two-out double in the ninth off Ryan Tepera (1-2) to win it.

Trout hit seven straight in the first two games. In the finale, 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 plate appearances.

Trout struck out in his final at-bat to extend his skid to 0-for-14.

“That guy, when he’s on he’s like a wrecking crew,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve been working him hard and I’m sure he’ll make the adjustment when we get out there very soon.”

Trout is having another strong season, batting .272 with 23 homers and 47 RBIs, despite his second big slump of the year – he was a career-worst 0 of 26 before ending that drought on June 6.

Trout wasn’t the only Angel to struggle at the plate, as Houston starter Fraber 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 all struck out at least once.

Angels Shohei Ohtani strikes out as Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado holds the ball.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani strikes out swinging as Houston Astros catcher Martin Maldonado handles the ball during the fifth inning Sunday in Houston. (David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

“The guys are working on it, but it’s really, really hard when you see so many of them going through it at the same time,” hitting coach Jeremy Reed said. “Usually it’s one guy here, one guy there and the next guy gets it. But there are a lot of guys struggling at the same time.”

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

There have been several occasions where teams have hit 20, including performances by Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. The Astros’ previous record was 18 in 1964 against Cincinnati.

Houston pitchers have fanned 47 in a row against the Angels.

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

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

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

Altuve had an RBI single in the fifth that made it 2-2.

Haselman, the team’s manager, was the Angels’ interim manager on Sunday, while Ray Montgomery, who was the interim manager, and interim manager Phil Nevin served their punishments for the bench-clearing brawl with the Mariners on last week. Hasselman 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 the Los Angeles Times.

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