Angel in the outfield: EYJ comes up big

Angel in the outfield: EYJ comes up big

HOUSTON -- The Angels knew they would need to receive contributions from their entire lineup to withstand the extended absence of Mike Trout, but one of their most unexpected lifts has come from veteran journeyman Eric Young Jr.

Young crushed a three-run home run off Michael Feliz to cap a six-run fifth inning for the Angels, fueling a 12-6 series-clinching victory over the Astros on Sunday afternoon at Minute Maid Park.

"It's huge," Young said. "I'm thankful my name is in the lineup and just want to try to take advantage of every opportunity."

The Angels entered the fifth down, 6-3, but they battled back to tie the game on Luis Valbuena's RBI single, C.J. Cron's RBI double and Andrelton Simmons' sacrifice fly. Martin Maldonado then walked to extend the rally, bringing up Young with a pair of runners on and two outs.

Though he's known more for his speed than his power, Young launched a 2-1 slider from Feliz to the right-field bleachers, skipping twice out of the box before initiating his home run trot. The clutch blast broke the 6-6 deadlock and gave the Angels a 9-6 lead, one they would not relinquish.

Angels score six in the 5th

"Just put a good swing on it," Young said. "I've still got more stolen bases than home runs, so I'm going to go ahead and say I'm still the speed guy. Every now and again if I try to hit the ball in the gap, it might just carry."

Young also drove in a run with a seventh-inning single to finish with four RBIs. Since being called up from Triple-A Salt Lake to fill in for Trout on May 29, Young is batting .318 (14-for-44) with three doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four stolen bases in 13 games with the Angels.

"EY is making the most of an opportunity," Angels manager Mike Sciosica said. "He's gotten some big hits, playing good defense, whether he's in center or left. Ran the bases aggressively. He definitely fits with these guys, and he's playing good baseball."

Young Jr.'s RBI single

Young's efforts -- coupled with big days from Cameron Maybin, who went 3-for-4 with two runs and two steals, and Kole Calhoun, who knocked in three runs -- helped the Angels overcome a rocky start from Jesse Chavez and secure their first series victory of the season against the Astros, who have the best record in the Majors. Even with Trout on the disabled list with a thumb injury, the Angels have managed to keep their heads above water, going 4-2 over their six-game road trip in Detroit and Houston to climb back to .500 at 33-33.

"It means that we can play with anybody," Maybin said. "It definitely should let us know that even with some guys down, some huge guys, we can play with anybody, so I think we should definitely be proud of how we played on this road trip and try to carry it over going back home and keep the momentum going."

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.