Mike Trout turns 23 on Thursday, and he has already enjoyed two happy birthdays as a Major Leaguer. He has homered on Aug. 7 in each of the past two years and owns a .333 (3-for-9) batting average on his birthday.
His b-day success seems primed to continue in the Freeway Series finale, as the Angels outfielder has hit safely in 20 of his past 21 Interleague games, including a .375 clip with six doubles, a triple and four homers in 14 games against National League opponents this year.
Perhaps Trout's recent tear as well as his birthday success can help Angels lefty C.J. Wilson as he aims to reverse his fortunes opposite fellow southpaw Hyun-Jin Ryu and the Dodgers at Angel Stadium.
Wilson limped into a stint on the disabled list with a right ankle sprain following a rough outing on July 9. That wrapped up a four-start stretch that saw Wilson's 3.34 ERA increase by nearly a full run. Unfortunately for Los Angeles, Wilson's return to the hill was also tough.
He surrendered six earned runs on six hits in only 1 1/3 innings against the Rays on Saturday. His ERA in his past five turns is 12.50.
"Obviously it was his first start back. We wish it would've turned out better for him; we're all pulling for him," Halos pitching coach Mike Butcher said. "Really just some pitch execution. He got himself into some deep counts. He's got to not let the counts run so deep and give himself a chance to get some early outs in the game."
Butcher was asked if Wilson's tendency to over-adjust may be what plagues his performance, but the pitching coach believes the key to a turnaround is simply execution, something Wilson achieved with a 2.89 ERA and 10 quality starts in 14 trips to the mound between April 7 and June 8.
"Sometimes, you can be as prepared as you want, but it's really all about going out there and executing the game plan," Butcher said. "I think the biggest thing is, he's been working himself into some deep counts, and when you're doing that, sometimes you're showing all your pitches early in the game. It kind of works as a disadvantage because now they've seen every pitch."
Angels: Smith keeping foes scoreless
Angels reliever Joe Smith has notched 22 consecutive scoreless outings since June 22, a stretch encompassing 22 2/3 innings. Although he has given up hits in four of his past five outings, Smith owns a 0.44 WHIP during the streak.
The right-hander has made a Major League-leading 54 appearances this season and is enjoying a career year. Both his 1.83 ERA and his 0.83 WHIP are in good position to become new career-high marks.
Dodgers: Ryu enjoying strong run
Ryu has notched 12 quality starts in his past 14 outings, and he is 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA in his past four, including a no-decision in his last start, as he gave up two earned runs in seven frames against the Cubs on Saturday. He threw 108 pitches, his most since logging 112 on April 17.
Ryu credited the combination of his slider and his changeup for the 14th start in which he allowed two earned runs or fewer this season.
"I think [my slider] was good today," Ryu said. "I was able to use the changeup when I needed it. I got two outs with it. I think overall, every pitch was working today."
• Since June 6, the Angels lead the Majors with a 36-18 record.
• The Dodgers have gone 10-9 against American League opponents this season after going 12-8 last season. Thursday's Freeway Series finale will be the team's last Interleague matchup of the year.