Anaheim, CA–Shuhei Ohtani adheres to a strict routine in nearly every aspect of his life. When his final start was delayed by 12 minutes before a pre-match party to honor the 2002 World Championship Angels champions, his meticulous preparation took a hit before he was thrown to the ground.
The slightly bumpy start still made for an incredible second night for the two-way star.
Ohtani hit a career-high 13 on eight runs dominant for two-stroke ball, and the AL MVP also reached the base three times in Los Angeles’ 5-0 win over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday.
After giving up two singles to start this first-half delay, Ohtani (6-4) retired 16 Royals and 23 of the last 24 hitters he faced. Matching the longest start to his major league career, he only allowed one starting player over his last seven innings – in a walk that was quickly wiped out by double play.
“I think the biggest thing was putting zero in the first half after giving up the first two strokes,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I was able to do that, and it set the tone for the game. I wanted to go as long as I could, but didn’t really think about the pitch early in the game.”
With the backdrop of a rare Southern California thunderstorm illuminating the skies far from the central field of Big A, Otani also had solo and double walks on the board in his latest stunt two-way performance.
One night after Otani hit two homers out of three and drove in eight career-high runs in an additional in-round loss, he set a new personal best in strikes by cheering on Emmanuel Rivera on his 108th and final.
We just got on his back,” said Phil Nevin, Angels interim manager. “I thought I’d take him out to go to the eighth, and he was adamant: ‘No. that’s mine. I’m staying.’ … what a day. What a performance.”
David McKinnon earned his first major league win with a seventh-place RBI song for The Angels, who avoided a streak sweep with their fourth win in six games overall. Luis Renjivo had an RBI double in seventh before that song was scored right by MacKinnon, who had earned his RBI career first twice earlier with a sacrifice fly.
After scoring 18 runs in the previous two games at Angel Stadium, the Royals were eliminated for the second time in four days and the tenth time this season. Kansas City still won five out of seven.
“It was a show,” said Mike Matheny, the Royals’ manager. “It’s a very unique repertoire of presentations. I don’t think you’ll find many guys with as many guns as what we saw today. He was throwing three different sliders, plus a cutter and a bender. When the split started, that was the time the strikes started.” Already, he got 100 (mph) in the tank which he never showed. … It’s going to be a tough day on the board.”
Ohtani is unbeaten on the pile lately, allowing only one run in his last 20 runs over three starts. In his last home start two weeks ago, he made seven innings of one-ball runs and also racked up a victory that broke the Angels’ franchise record with 14 games.
Wyatt Merifield and Andrew Benentende singled out for his first two royal hits against Ohtani, but then put every hit he faced until Merrifield made the singles walk in the sixth round – and Benentende soon began doubles play.
Otani’s fastball topped 99 mph twice in the second half of his start while baffling Kansas City, earning 34 combined hits in swing hits and misses or called hits.
Daniel Lynch (3-7) wasn’t effective for the Royals early on, but the left handed Angel closed in until they loaded the bases into fifth in two lone runs. Lynch, who left after McKinnon’s fly sacrifice, gave up three hits and five walks in 104 throws.
Mike Trout got a day off for the Angels, leaving the struggling lineup definitely lacking in a punch. But MacKinnon came as an unlikely hitter in the team’s cleanup, taking home his first major league hit after being called up last weekend on his MLB debut.
McKinnon was pleased with his brilliant swings, but other aspects of the game thrilled him as well.
“I’ve played on the field behind Shuhei and see how good he is,” McKinnon said. “It’s crazy to be here.”
Royals: Salvador Perez after injuring his left thumb sat on a swing on Tuesday night, but Matini said the team was still determining the severity of the injury after an MRI scan.
Angels: RHP Jimmy Herget went on the casualty list for 15 days with a collision in the right shoulder. Right-handers Elvis Peguero and Oliver Ortega came in from Triple-A Salt Lake, while inconsistent beginner Reid Detmers dropped after just six starts after throwing a heavy hit.
Royals: Zach Greinke is expected to drop off the injured list on Friday to start when Kansas City opens its three-game weekend series at home against Oakland. Greinke (0-4, 5.05 ERA) went to IL three weeks ago with a strained forearm.
Angels: After a day off at home, Los Angeles opens a three-game weekend series against Seattle on Friday night. Neither team confirmed a start.