The headline “Angels CF, a former 1st-rounder, homers against M’s” would hardly surprise anyone in Seattle.
Mike Trout, after all, has more homers — 53 — than any opposing player in Mariners’ history.
But it wasn’t Trout in center field at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park on Saturday night for the Los Angeles Angels, but rather the recently acquired Mickey Moniak.
Moniak, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft by Philadelphia, led off the fourth inning with a home run as the Angels won 7-1 to earn a split of the day-night doubleheader.
The American League West rivals will wrap up their four-game series on Sunday afternoon.
With Trout out with an ailment affecting his left rib cage and back, Moniak has gotten an immediate chance for playing time since being part of the trade that sent starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard to the Phillies.
Moniak, 24, a Southern California native, is batting .286 with two homers and three RBIs in his first five games with the Angels.
That after hitting just .129 with one homer and five RBIs in 47 games over the past three seasons with the Phillies.
“Looking back on my time in Philadelphia, I was grateful for it and (for being) given a chance as an 18-year-old kid. I came up with them, debuted with them,” Moniak said. “But I’ve always been a guy that maybe takes a little bit to get comfortable at every level, and once I get comfortable, it’s on from there. So I wasn’t really given that opportunity there, which makes sense.
“They’re always in a pennant hunt with a lot of money on the field, so just to be here and be told that you’re gonna go out and play and have some fun is huge.”
Angels interim manager Phil Nevin can relate. Another Southern Californian, he was the No. 1 overall pick by Houston in 1992 but played in only 18 games for the Astros before being traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1995.
“We were drafted in the same position,” Nevin said. “Those pressures, you don’t think about it every day. You’re reminded of it just once in a while. You can say all you want, that it doesn’t matter or there’s no pressure, but at the end of the day, there is. It’s fan mail, there’s cards, the everyday things, the interviews. Being constantly reminded of that adds pressure to you.”
On Sunday, left-hander Tucker Davidson (1-2. 6.46 ERA) is scheduled to make his Angels debut after being acquired from the Atlanta Braves at the trade deadline as part of the deal for closer Raisel Iglesias. Davidson will face Seattle for the first time.
The Mariners will start lefty Marco Gonzales (6-11, 3.95), who is 9-3 with a 3.41 ERA in 19 career starts against the Angels. He took a 2-1 loss to them June 26 in Anaheim, Calif., in a game marred by a benches-clearing brawl.
The Mariners have had trouble scoring at home against the Angels. Seattle was blanked in the final two games of a series in mid-June, then was scoreless until the ninth inning of Friday’s opener before tallying three times to force extra innings in a 4-3 defeat. Ty France’s two-run homer gave them a 2-1 victory in Saturday’s first game of the twin bill, while their only run in the nightcap came on Luis Torrens’ solo shot.
“We struggled (Saturday), that’s the bottom line,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “When we get it all clicking, it should be a really tough lineup to get through, (but) it’s just not clicking.”