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Outside of Mike Trout, the LA Angels Are Hopeless on Offense

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SEATTLE, WA - JULY 05: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim yells after striking out against Marco Gonzales #32 of the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at Safeco Field on July 5, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 05: Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim yells after striking out against Marco Gonzales #32 of the Seattle Mariners in the fifth inning at Safeco Field on July 5, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images) /
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On Tuesday night, hanging on to a 2-1 lead against the LA Angels with one out in the top of the ninth, the Seattle Mariners intentionally walked Mike Trout.

Putting the potential tying run on base for the LA Angels in a situation like that violates a century and a half of baseball wisdom, but the Mariners didn’t care — and it worked out for them. Trout went to third on a single, but could only watch helplessly as Albert Pujols and Jonathan Lucroy struck and grounded out to end the game.

This was the second game in a row that the Mariners did Trout dirty. On Monday night in the seventh inning, they issued Trout another intentional pass with two outs and the bases empty.

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The free pass didn’t haunt them; Justin Bour followed with a pop out to end the inning, and the Angels went on to lose that game as well. The Oakland A’s were doing it, too, walking Trout with one out in the 9th in a one-run game, ready to take their chances with everyone in the Angels lineup except for Mike Trout.

That the Mariners and A’s had so much respect for Trout is not unique. Trout is, by far, the most feared hitter in the game today. The problem for the Angels is that these teams apparently have so little respect for the bats behind him, they’re willing to put the speedy Trout on base in game-tying situations because they know there’s probably no pain involved in doing it. So far this season, the other teams are right.

Tuesday was the fourth straight loss for the Angels, and fifth in six games to start the season. In their two opening series, the Angels managed just 13 runs. If not for a wild comeback in the late innings last Friday night, the Angels would be finishing off an 0-6 road trip to start the season.

A lot of this can be blamed on injuries. Shohei Ohtani‘s return from Tommy John surgery isn’t expected to happen until some time in mid-May, while Justin Upton‘s turf toe injury will likely keep him out of the lineup until the middle of June. With those two out for so long, other guys have had to step up… and they haven’t.

Bour and Pujols have combined to go 5-37 with just one extra-base hit. That Andrelton Simmons is batting cleanup in front of Pujols is both an indictment of how far Pujols has fallen and a billboard signaling how power-starved the Angels lineup is at the moment.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing the Angels can really do to fix the offense before Ohtani and Upton come back. They can’t buy new talent — Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are not walking through that door — and the talent that they do have in the minors is either hurt, and/or not ready (Jo Adell), or may never be (Taylor Ward).

It may help to start playing David Fletcher full-time over Tommy La Stella, to see if Fletcher can hold down a big league job. La Stella, like Lucroy and Bour, isn’t someone the Angels expect to stick around as a starter, and Fletcher is. Might as well see what he’s got.

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As for the rest of the lineup, it is what it is, and there isn’t much the front office is going to be able to do about it. The best hope is that Ohtani and Upton come back and hit a ton and help hit the Angels back into contention. However, that leaves the Angels with at least another month with this lineup. They can only hope that the bats find some life when they return to Anaheim on Thursday.

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