To the Great Unknown: 6/4

After placing Mike Trout on the DL with exactly 2/3 of the season remaining, the Angels recalled outfielder Eric Young, Jr. and announced that he would start in left field as Cameron Maybin moves over to play center field in Trout’s absence. In his first season with the Angels organization, Young played in more games this past spring than any of his teammates, hitting .236 with an on base percentage of .354.  It’ll be quite a challenge for the 31 year old journeyman outfielder to step into some pretty big shoes, but one that he’ll no doubt take on while making very effort to succeed. Young has an outgoing and infectious personality which will surely win over fans. Still, he’ll need to hit well to come close to making up for the loss of Trout.

Playing their first game without Mike Trout against the Atlanta Braves on Memorial Day while wearing their holiday camouflage uniforms, the Angels were unable to disguise just how difficult playing without their star center fielder will be in the weeks ahead as they dropped the first of three games, 6-3. To their credit however, the Angels bounced back with two solid wins. The first was behind Parker Bridwell, a recent acquisition from the Baltimore Orioles whom the Angels have converted from a reliever to a starter over the past two months. Bridwell bested old pal Bartolo Colon who was making his first appearance in Anaheim since he pitched for the Mets in the 2014 season. Unfortunately for Bartolo, he was the victim of several Braves errors as he surrendered nine runs, seven of which were unearned, in a bizarre third inning highlighted by career home run number 599, a three run jack off the bat of Albert Pujols.

Bridwell, 25 years old, making his first career major league start, notched his first major league win pitching 6 innings while yielding 3 earned runs on 6 hits. Parker was just five years old when Colon made his major league debut with Cleveland in 1997. Nearly 36,000 fans attended Angels Stadium the next evening, anxiously hoping they’d witness history as Albert Pujols sought to become only the ninth major leaguer to hit 600 career home runs. Instead, they were treated to an unexpected but most welcome eighth inning game winning tater by Mike Trout’s stand-in, Eric Young Jr.. Young, who suffered the loss of an infant born months prematurely in January was overcome with emotion when questioned by Fox West sports reporter Alex Curry after the game. He displayed both grit and a sense of decency that reveal a special man inside the uniform he wears to work. Much as we’ll all miss Mike, rooting for Eric will come easily as he is clearly a man who deserves the respect of all.

Coming off the emotional win against the Braves on the last day of May, the 28-28 Angels entered June with better expectations than they had days earlier when they first learned that they’d have to play a while without Mike Trout. Unfortunately, hopes and great expectations sometimes fall short of the mark. In a series against a surprisingly stronger than expected Minnesota ball club, who entered this series percentage points ahead in the AL Central of the 2016 AL champion Cleveland Indians, the Angels performed to the level expected of them when Mike Trout went down with his thumb injury as they dropped three of four to the Twinkies at week’s end.

Of course, the lone victory, a 7-2 win on Saturday night June 3, came with some extra special icing on the cake as Albert Pujols reached the 600 milestone in grand style with a grand slam home run in the fourth inning off Twins starter, ex-Angel Ervin Santana, before a home crowd of 40,000+ adoring Angels fans.

The Angels have now fallen two games under .500, are tied for second place with the Seattle Mariners in the Western Division of the American League, and stand 13 ½ games behind the front-runner Houston Astros.

Angels-Across-America will from here forwards designate a player of the month and pitcher of the month. The awards will be based mainly on statistics but may on occasion take into account off field accomplishments and other intangibles that make our player of the month uniquely special to our website. May’s position player goes to Mike Trout who hit .297 with 9 home runs, 18 RBI’s, 5 Stolen bases, a .484 OBP, a .797 slugging average, and a 1.280 OPS. Kudo’s though also go to the machine, Albert Pujols for putting up strong offensive numbers while closing in on career home run number 600. Our Pitcher of the month may come as more of a surprise to many. The winner is Yusmeiro Petit who went 1-0 in 18 innings of work while compiling an ERA of .147, holding opponents to a .148 batting average, striking out 24 batters, and compiling a WHIP of 0.87. Has Albert Pujols already clinched the AAA award for the month of June?  Stay tuned!

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