Shohei Ohtani flashes his power on hard-hitting Angels lineup
Maybe he was exhausted after a 3-hour, 35-minute marathon that featured 23 runs, 27 hits, seven homers and 14 pitchers, but Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons kept a straight face and monotone voice when he was asked about two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani hitting a home run in his third consecutive game.
“It’s getting old,” Simmons said late Friday night, his deadpan delivery causing reporters to break out in laughter. “No, it’s really cool to see him swing the bat that well. I’m happy for him. I think we all are.”
Majestic as it was, Ohtani’s second-inning blast, a towering solo shot that traveled 449 feet and splashed into the water in the rock formation beyond the center field wall, merely turned a six-run deficit into five.
But it may have provided just the spark the Angels needed to mount a massive comeback for a 13-9 victory over the Oakland Athletics in a game they trailed 6-0 going into the bottom of the second inning.
“Yeah,” left fielder Justin Upton said, when asked if Ohtani’s homer put a charge into the team. “Any time you’re down six and you get one back pretty quick, that deficit gets smaller and smaller. He started it.”
Upton finished it, capping a five-run, seventh-inning rally with a three-run homer to center, a laser that cleared the fence just as A’s center fielder Boog Powell ran face-first, at full speed, into the wall, the defender either disregarding or missing the “warning” in the term warning track.
In between was Luis Valbuena’s two-run single to highlight a four-run fourth, Simmons’ RBI single and Ohtani’s bases-loaded walk in a two-run fifth, and a throwing error by Oakland third baseman and usual defensive whiz Matt Chapman that allowed the Angels to score two of their five unearned runs in the seventh.
The Angels banged out 14 hits and kept constant pressure on the A’s, the victory a testament to the lineup depth general manager Billy Eppler added this winter when he re-signed Upton and acquired Ohtani, Zack Cozart and Ian Kinsler.
“You gotta try really, really hard to keep this lineup quiet,” Simmons said. “Give us any room, and we can bounce back. They scored a couple of runs to keep the lead, but we kept coming at them, kept having good at-bats. They made a mistake that tied the game, and then Upton got a big hit after that. It shows how deep the lineup is and how many runs we’re capable of scoring.”
Ohtani struggled to make any contact, let alone consistent hard contact, in spring training, but he has shown phenomenal power in his last three games, becoming the second player in Angels history to hit a home run in each of his first three home games of a season. The other was Bobby Bonds in 1977.
“He smoked that ball, huh?” Simmons said of Ohtani’s homer. “The center fielder ran after it like he had a chance for a second, and scared everybody. It wasn’t even close. Ohtani has big power, and he’s showing it.”
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