Trout renews tradition with 3rd birthday homer

Trout renews tradition with 3rd birthday homer

ANAHEIM -- The sun was setting, the fans were filing in and Andrew Heaney was getting ready to fire the first pitch of Friday night's game when an unusual, singsongy chant broke out from the center-field seats at Angel Stadium.

Ha-ppy birth-day to you. Ha-ppy birth-day to you. Ha-ppy birth-day, Mike Trooout …

Trout smiled, looked over, lifted his glove in acknowledgement and heard his personal cheering section roar. Afterward, he said, "It gave me the chills."

So, Trout gave those chills right back.

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Moments after getting serenaded by his home fans, the superstar center fielder turned on a 97-mph fastball from Orioles starter Kevin Gausman and lifted it over the left-center-field fence for his Major League-leading 33rd home run. It marked the third time Trout has homered in the four birthdays he has had in the big leagues, and it set the tone for a wild 8-4 Angels win.

He also has homered in the All-Star Game, in walk-off fashion immediately after the All-Star Game, against Felix Hernandez in his first at-bat of the season (two years in a row) and on his mom's birthday (twice in the same game).

He has a knack for this sort of thing.

"Who is surprised?" Angels right fielder Kole Calhoun said. "I guess birthdays give him a little bit more juice. I mean he's a year older now, so he's getting his old-man strength."

Trout on homering on birthday

Trout's first at-bat as a 24-year-old saw him line a ball 105 mph off the bat and 423 feet away from home plate, according to Statcast™. He became the first player in history to homer on three birthdays before turning 25 and is already only one behind Garret Anderson for the most birthday home runs in franchise history.

Trout also walked twice on Friday, laced an opposite-field single against the shift and lined out to center field, an encouraging night for someone who entered 1-for-20 in the month of August.

"I felt good," said Trout, who reflected on his 24th birthday before the game. "The last couple of nights, I hadn't been seeing the ball well, so it's good to have a couple of good at-bats tonight."

Trout's two other birthday homers came in 2012 and '13, and they were both his 20th of the season. He has 13 more this year. One season removed from belting a career-high 36 homers, Trout is on pace for 50, while sporting career bests in slugging percentage (.611) and adjusted OPS (183).

The older he gets, the more pronounced his power becomes.

"But his approach and his swing is really more set for gap-to-gap and using the whole field and letting the ball get deep," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It just shows how short and quick and strong he is that he can have that approach but still be able to hit the ball out of the park at the rate he does."

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Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.