The line of the night: Trumbo's home run
ANAHEIM -- On the 43rd anniversary of the lunar landing, Mark Trumbo left the moon shot to Mike Trout. Trumbo chose the laser show.
Both acts were things of beauty to Angels faithful in a 43,936 Angel Stadium sellout on Friday night, thoroughly enjoying a 6-1 triumph over the Rangers authored by Jered Weaver that sliced Texas' American League West lead to five games.
As dynamic duos go, none in the game right now is the equal of Trout and Trumbo, who are bringing the thunder with remarkable regularity.
The leadoff man and the cleanup man have combined for 15 homers this month, Trumbo leading the Major Leagues with eight, Trout right behind him with seven.
Trumbo's sixth bomb in nine games and 27th of the season was a line drive off southpaw Derek Holland in the sixth inning that seemingly didn't stop rising until it crashed against the embankment beyond the wall in left-center.
"That was one of the hardest hit balls I've ever seen," Weaver said. "It didn't change planes the whole time. He puts so much backspin on the ball, it just keeps carrying. I'm glad I don't have to face him, that's for sure."
In the seventh, Trout lifted his 15th homer of the year -- and third in four games -- to right-center, bringing an end to Holland's night. This is a location generally visited by only the most powerful of right-handed hitters, such as Matt Kemp and Miguel Cabrera.
Trout, the most dangerous leadoff hitter in the game as a rookie, is three weeks away from his 21st birthday and about three years from even approaching his full power potential.
"The interesting thing," Trumbo was saying, "is trying to picture where he's going to be when he's in his physical prime. If he's doing what he's doing now, the sky's the limit."
Trout is the AL's leading hitter at .354. Just as impressive are his league-leading 68 runs scored, given that he missed 22 games while regaining his strength in April after a debilitating spring virus sapped him.
Trumbo, one homer off the MLB lead of 28 shared by Josh Hamilton and Adam Dunn, is atop the AL leaderboard in slugging at .630. Trout is pushing him at .599 while also leading the league in steals with 30.
Here are two Most Valuable Player candidates on a club featuring a man, Albert Pujols, known for collecting MVP awards. The punishment inflicted by Trumbo and Trout is what the Rangers are accustomed to dishing out as two-time reigning AL champions.
"It's nice," Trumbo said in reference to the series of TNT explosions, "but we're only two pieces of the puzzle. Everyone got involved tonight. Even guys who didn't get hits -- like Peter [Bourjos] -- had good at-bats. He just missed hitting a ball out to center" and had a hit taken away by Gold Glove third baseman Adrian Beltre.
Trumbo is a keen student of the game with a special interest in hitting, which became his occupation and preoccupation when he realized his future would not be on the mound. The Angels made that determination after drafting him and discovering some potential issues with a right arm that dispensed mid-90s heaters at Villa Park High School, 10 minutes down the road from Angel Stadium.
Trout's swing, to Trumbo, is close to a work of art even as it's still evolving.
"It's the plane of his swing," Trumbo said when asked about how Trout has been able to launch homers to right-center. "You have to do a number of things right to hit a ball with authority that way. Matt Kemp and Buster Posey come to mind as guys who can do that now. It's the angle with which you're coming into the ball.
"If you watch Mike's front shoulder, it hardly ever moves. That makes him that much more dangerous."
Trumbo also can reach high into the skies with his drives, the world having seen his moon shots in the Kansas City skies during the State Farm Home Run Derby at the All-Star Game.
But some of his favorite shots are these missiles that leave the yard in a heartbeat, such as the one that rocked Holland on Friday night. It ended an 11-pitch duel.
"The whole at-bat," Trumbo said, "I kept telling myself to keep going shorter, on changeups and everything. It was a fastball down and kind of in that caught some of the plate. It was the best one out of the entire group of pitches to hit, and I hit it squarely."
Bourjos, his good buddy and longtime teammate through the farm system, tells of the time the opposing shortstop went up for a Trumbo liner, only to watch it carry out of the park.
"In Portland one night," Bourjos said, "he hit a line drive that the shortstop leaped for. They have a high wall in left field there with a scoreboard on top of it. That ball kept rising and hit off the top of the scoreboard. I've never seen anything like it.
"It's his leverage and the backspin he puts on the ball. I've seen him come close to drilling a few pitchers. Scary."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.