Mike Trout should’ve known better than to hit singles.
Three times the 21-year-old Los Angeles Angels outfielder safely reached first base on Tuesday night, and all three times he was thrown out at second courtesy of Josh Hamilton‘s double play hat-trick.
The double plays led to a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Seattle Mariners, a loss in which the Halos left an unconscionable 21 runners on base, a third of those stranded by Hamilton, who followed up his three double play groundouts with a pair of strikeouts in the seventh and ninth.
The defeat also marked the second time in as many weeks that the Angels have wasted a masterful performance by starter Joe Blanton: the right-hander’s 6.2-inning, 11-strikeout outing was for naught.
Hamilton’s abomination of a performance — he actually would have done less harm had he looked at three strikes in all five plate appearances — made it clear to Angel fans that he will not be soon following on the coattails of fellow slugger Albert Pujols, who hit a game-tying solo homer in the eighth inning and has raised his batting average from .240 to .266 while adding three home runs and eight RBIs over the past nine games.
Hamilton’s average, meanwhile, stands at .213 and continues its seemingly inexorable descent towards the dreaded Mendoza line.
What more can be said about Hamilton’s season? The man is clearly not an awful player. Barring major injuries or a personal tragedy, no one goes from hitting 43 home runs and 128 RBIs one season to looking like a Little Sisters of the Poor standout the next season.
He has not switched leagues or encountered unfamiliar pitching, and has been given every opportunity to prove himself. He simply must be hitting an insurmountable mental block, and that can be far worse news than any injury.
Perhaps it is foolish to hope for a sudden renaissance at the plate for Hamilton at this juncture. The Angels will only go as far as Hamilton’s bat takes them. Right now, everyone (except, seemingly, Hamilton) knows that is nowhere.
Tony Baker is a Los Angeles Angels blogger for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter at @tonloc_baker.