Mike Trout will continue to pursue his third career 40-homer season when the Los Angeles Angels open their final three-game series on the road against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.
Both teams enter the series with no playoff hopes, yet they are riding the momentum of powerful offensive shows in wins on Sunday.
Trout bombed his 39th home run among his three hits as the Angels (73-86) used a 14-hit attack to thump the visiting Texas Rangers 8-3 for a seventh straight win.
Trout acknowledged that his potential milestone and his team's current streak are cases of too little, too late, as the Angels will miss the playoffs for the eighth straight season.
"We're not where we want to be," he said Sunday, "but the guys are putting their heads down and we're trying to finish strong."
His 39 homers have come in 116 games. He needed 134 games to hit a career-high 45 in 2019.
Trout has 40 homers in his career against the A's, including 19 at the Oakland Coliseum. That's the third-most he's hit against any opponent behind the Seattle Mariners (54) and Rangers (44), and the second-most he's hit at a visiting ballpark behind Seattle's (33).
Trout has two homers against the A's (57-102) this season, but he has only six other hits in 36 total at-bats for a .222 average.
Right-hander Adrian Martinez (4-6, 6.08 ERA), Oakland's scheduled starter in the series opener, served up a home run to Trout last week. In his first start against the Angels, a 4-1 loss, the rookie allowed five hits and three runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The 25-year-old has gone winless in his last four starts -- all A's losses -- while being pounded for 19 runs in 18 1/3 innings. His ERA has gone from 4.80 to 6.08 in that span.
The Angels swept three games from the A's when the clubs met in Anaheim last week, beginning Tuesday in a game started by lefty Patrick Sandoval (6-9, 3.03).
One-third of his wins this season have come against the A's in three head-to-heads. He's gone 2-0 with a no-decision in those games, all of which the Angels have won. Sandoval allowed just five runs and 14 hits over 19 innings in those starts.
The no-decision came in his last Tuesday's start, when he left a 3-3 tie after 5 1/3 innings in a game the Angels won 4-3. He's gone 2-3 with a 2.13 ERA in seven starts against Oakland.
Sandoval has gone unbeaten in his last five starts overall and retains an incentive in his final scheduled outing. The 25-year-old has a chance to become the first Angels pitcher, age 25 or below, since Jim Abbott (2.77) in 1992 to make 25 or more starts in a season and record an ERA under 3.00.
He'll face an A's team that ended a six-game skid Sunday with a bang, getting four homers, including two from Shea Langeliers, in a 10-3 road shellacking of the playoff-bound Mariners.
Having watched Seattle and its fans celebrate clinching a playoff spot earlier in the series, Langeliers admitted to thinking ahead.
"You watch another team experience that and you're like, 'That's where I want to be.' That's the goal," he said. "We'll learn from it and get stronger from it."
--Field Level Media