Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh power Angels to series win over Red Sox

Angels' Jared Walsh hits a solo home run as Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez and home plate umpire Adam Beck watch.
Angels’ Jared Walsh hits a solo home run as Boston Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez and home plate umpire Adam Beck watch during the fifth inning on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Angels defeated the Boston Red Sox 5-4 on Wednesday to take the series.

Follow along for live updates throughout the Angels three-game home series against the Boston Red Sox. You can expect news, notes and analysis in real time before, during and after the game.

Shohei Ohtani, Jared Walsh power Angels to 5-4 win over Red Sox

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Shohei Ohtani and Jared Walsh put an abrupt halt to an Angels blooper reel Wednesday, mashing three home runs between them in the final four innings of a 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox before 20,001 in Angel Stadium.

The Angels had seven hits through four innings, six of them bloop singles with exit velocities ranging from 64.4 mph to 79.9 mph, including two by leadoff man David Fletcher, who extended his hitting streak to 21 games.

But Ohtani and Walsh, who will represent the Angels in Tuesday’s All-Star game, opened up the throttle with back-to-back homers to lead off the fifth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie.

Ohtani fouled one pitch off his front ankle and another off his front knee, limping around the batter’s circle in pain, before crushing a two-and-two changeup from left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, sending a 114.5-mph laser that traveled 433 feet to right field for his major league-leading 32nd homer of the season.

“That’s how tough he is,” manager Joe Maddon said of the two-way star who threw seven innings in Tuesday night’s win. “He didn’t call for a trainer. He knew there was nothing he could do. He stayed in there, got himself right and hit a homer.”

The left-handed-hitting Walsh followed by cranking a one-two cut-fastball from Rodriguez 433 feet to center, the ball leaving his bat at 107.7 mph, for his 21st homer and a 4-2 lead.

Boston trimmed the deficit to 4-3 in the sixth on a Xander Bogaerts double off starter Andrew Heaney and Christian Arroyo’s RBI single off reliever Steve Cishek.

But Walsh got that run back in the seventh, driving his 22nd homer, a 406-foot shot to right that left his bat at 104.8 mph, off left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez for a 5-3 lead.

Walsh also followed soft singles by Fletcher and Ohtani in the first by smoking a 105-mph RBI groundout.

“Just shake his hand — you’re gonna walk away hurt,” Maddon said of Walsh. “He has really strong hands. He’ll take some off-balance swings, and if the ball gets to the barrel, it goes really far. As he learns to cope with left-handers better, as he organizes his strike zone, he could get really dangerous.”

The Red Sox pulled to within 5-4 in the eighth when Angels right fielder Luis Rengifo lost J.D. Martinez’s leadoff fly to the wall in the sun, the ball dropping for a triple, and Bogaerts lined an RBI double to right.

But reliever Mike Mayers got Rafael Devers to foul out to third, struck out Hunter Renfroe and got Arroyo to ground out, Fletcher ranging far behind the second-base bag and making a long throw to first to end the inning.

Closer Raisel Iglesias struck out the side on 15 pitches in the ninth for his 18th save, the Angels taking two of three from the American League East-leading Red Sox and improving to 44-42.

Iglesias, who mixes a 97-mph sinking fastball with an 85-mph slider and 90-mph changeup, has given up two earned runs and two hits in nine games since June 23, striking out 20 and walking none in 11 innings.

“The dude has unbelievable stuff, and he attacks the strike zone,” Heaney said. “Any time you have a guy at the back end who has that good of stuff, attacks the zone and who wants to close out tight games against good teams, that’s all you can ask for.”

Ohtani’s 15th homer in his last 20 games broke Hideki Matsui’s record for homers by a Japanese-born player.

Matsui hit 31 homers for the Yankees in 2004.

“Thirty-two homers in a season is just a passing point for a hitter like Shohei,” Matsui said in a statement released by the Angels. “I was once considered a long-ball hitter, but I believe that he truly is a long-ball hitter. Furthermore, he is an amazing pitcher. He exceeds what is considered conventional for a major league player, and there is no one else like him.”


Andrew Heaney’s four one-hit innings help Angels take 2-0 lead over Red Sox through four innings

Left-hander Andrew Heaney gave up one hit through four scoreless innings, and the Angels bunched three soft singles together for two runs in the first inning to take a 2-0 lead over the Boston Red Sox through four innings in Angel Stadium.

The Angels had seven singles through three innings, all of them bloop hits or ground balls with exit velocities ranging from 34.6 mph to 79.9 mph. The team’s two hardest-hit balls were Jared Walsh groundouts of 105 mph in the first and 103.5 mph in the third.

But sometimes it’s not how hard you hit the ball but where you hit it. David Fletcher led off the bottom of the first with a bloop single to left-center off Boston left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to extend his hitting streak to 21 games.

Shohei Ohtani followed with a bloop single to left-center that advanced Fletcher to third, Ohtani alertly taking second on the throw. Walsh grounded out to second for a run, second baseman Christian Arroyo making a nice back-hand diving stop and throwing to first for the out. Phil Gosselin, batting cleanup, flared an RBI single to center for a 2-0 lead.

Heany, who was rocked for 12 earned runs and 15 hits—five of them homers—in nine innings of his previous two starts, did not allow a hit until there were two outs in the fourth, when Xander Bogaerts followed J.D. Martinez’s 10-pitch walk with a single to right. But Heaney got Rafael Devers to ground out to second to end the inning.

Fletcher also blooped a single to right in the second, giving the second baseman hits in seven consecutive plate appearances, two shy of Bengie Molina’s record of nine straight hits in August 2001. But Fletcher’s streak was broken with a groundout to shortstop to end the fourth.


Justin Upton’s return from injury delayed; Shohei Ohtani back in lineup

Justin Upton’s return from a lower-back strain will likely be pushed back until after the All-Star break, manager Joe Maddon said before Wednesday’s game against the Boston Red Sox in Angel Stadium.

Upton, who is batting .247 with an .816 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 14 homers, 32 RBIs and 40 runs this season, has been sidelined since June 23. The Angels expected Upton to be activated off the injured list on Saturday or Sunday.

“But it hasn’t progressed like we thought it would originally,” Maddon said. “I thought he’d be playing several days go, based on the original prognosis. It just does not want to loosen up for him. He has a tightness that he just can’t get rid of. So we have to be more patient.”

Shohei Ohtani, the two-way star who gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings of Tuesday night’s 5-3 win over the Red Sox, is back in Wednesday’s lineup as the designated hitter, batting second.

Maddon said the cooler temperatures during Tuesday night’s game and Thursday’s off-day made the decision to hit Ohtani the day after he pitched a little easier.

“I did not conclude yes or no until after the game last night,” Maddon said. “As we were walking out, I asked him how he felt about today, and he wanted to go. I think tomorrow’s day off played into it. That’s it. It’s no more complicated than that.”

ANGELS LINEUP: 2B David Fletcher, DH Shohei Ohtani, 1B Jared Walsh, LF Phil Gosselin, SS Jose Iglesias, C Kurt Suzuki, RF Taylor Ward, CF Juan Lagares, 3B Luis Rengifo, LHP Andrew Heaney.

RED SOX LINEUP: CF Enrique Hernandez, LF Alex Verdugo, DH J.D. Martinez, SS Xander Bogaerts, 3B Rafael Devers, RF Hunter Renfroe, 2B Christian Arroyo, C Christian Vazquez, 1B Bobby Dalbec, LHP Eduardo Rodriguez.


Shohei Ohtani bounces back with seven-inning start in Angels’ 5-3 win over Red Sox

Shohei Ohtani pitched seven innings and had a double in the Angels win over the Red Sox. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Shohei Ohtani walked slowly off the mound, then waited at the far end of the dugout for Juan Lagares to jog all the way in from center field.

Lagares had just robbed a two-run home run with a leaping catch at the wall. And with a crowd of 28,689 going wild around him, Ohtani wanted to give his teammate thanks.

“I just said, ‘Nice play,’” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “There wasn’t much to say. That was a huge play.”

Indeed, after having almost everything go wrong in his previous start, a career-worst seven-run outing last week in which he only got two outs, there was little that didn’t go right for Ohtani in the Angels’ 5-3 win against the Boston Red Sox on Tuesday.

On the mound, he worked quickly and navigated a potent lineup, giving up just two runs in seven innings despite leadoff doubles in the first, fourth and sixth innings and a leadoff single in the seventh.

“I felt like I had good rhythm, good mechanics,” Ohtani said. “It was a lot different than my last start.”

Against the New York Yankees last week, Ohtani threw 41 laborious pitches in his ⅔-inning start. On Tuesday, he didn’t throw more than 16 pitches in any single frame.

“I wasn’t trying to go for strikeouts,” Ohtani said, after finishing the game with only four. “I was trying to get those quick outs, make them put the ball in play … Their lineup is very stacked. So I put that in my head and just wanted to try to get the outs as quickly as possible.”

The result: no walks, strikes on 73% of his pitches, and only his second seven-inning start of the season.

“He didn’t try to overthrow anything,” manager Joe Maddon said, adding: “I just thought he pitched today, in the classic sense … That’s a beautiful night’s work.”

At the plate, Ohtani roped an RBI double into right field in the first inning, erasing the Red Sox’s early one-run lead. Then, he scored a go-ahead run on catcher Max Stassi’s two-run home run later in the inning, a blast that put the Angels (43-42) in front for the rest of the night.

Ohtani even flashed the leather, too, making an impressive backhanded stop on a groundball in the first inning and fielding another hopper back to the mound in the fifth.

It was Lagares, though, who produced the best play in the field, making a leaping catch at the center-field wall in the sixth inning to bring back what would have been a go-ahead two-run home run by Xander Bogaerts.

“I think that play,” Ohtani said of Lagares’ catch, “pretty much made the outcome of the game.”

Without that, Ohtani’s strong night might have ended on a sour note.

Instead, he bumped gloves with Lagares, retreated back into the dugout, and watched the Angels quickly score two runs in the bottom of the inning to turn a one-run lead into three. It could have been more, too, had Ohtani not struck out with bases loaded to end the threat.

After Ohtani completed the seventh inning, Maddon turned to the bullpen for the final six outs.

Even with Ohtani’s pitch count only at 89, Maddon had seen more than enough from his two-way star. Whatever doubts might have arisen in the Bronx six days earlier, Tuesday’s performance immediately erased.

“I have that much belief in Shohei’s ability to read a situation on a baseball field,” Maddon said. “He said, ‘I don’t have my overpowering stuff tonight. I’m gonna have to pitch a little bit better.’”

Early on, Ohtani fired a steady string of fastballs and cutters, using those two pitches predominantly during a stretch between the first and fifth innings when he retired 15 of 16 batters.

As the game went on, he incorporated more offspeed offerings, including one fifth-inning at-bat to Danny Santana in which he threw two 67-mph curveballs — much slower than his usual velocity on that pitch, and something that even caught Stassi off guard — and two 97-mph fastballs.

“He has the ability to just attack guys in multiple ways,” said Stassi, who was catching Ohtani for the first time since April 4. “A 67-mph curveball, then the next pitch was a 97-mph fastball, that’s just not fair.”

And when he left the mound for the last time, having lowered his season ERA to 3.49 (and his ERA at Angel Stadium to 1.87), he received another standing ovation from a fanbase that remains ever-appreciative and increasingly more amazed.

“We all romanticize what it would have been like to watch Babe Ruth play,” Maddon said postgame. “You hear this stuff and it’s a larger than life, broader concept. Now we’re living it. So don’t underestimate what we’re seeing.”


Shohei Ohtani to play both ways on Tuesday; Anthony Rendon placed on IL

For the 10th time this season, Shohei Ohtani will play both ways in his Tuesday start against the Boston Red Sox, batting second with the Angels sacrificing the designated hitter slot.

Angels manager Joe Maddon on Monday had been unsure if Ohtani would play both ways in the second of the team’s three-game series against the Red Sox, concerned that injuries to Anthony Rendon and Taylor Ward could leave their bench too shorthanded.

Rendon, however, was placed on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday afternoon, allowing the Angels to recall infielder Jack Mayfield and bolster the bench ahead of Ohtani’s two-way outing.

For Rendon, it is the third time going on the injured list this season. He missed 11 games in April with a left groin strain, then nine more in May with a left knee contusion.

Ward wasn’t originally in Tuesday’s starting lineup after jamming his right index finger running the bases on Sunday. But after going through pregame batting practice, he was a late addition, batting seventh and playing right field.

Here is the Angels full updated lineup for Tuesday:


Betting lines and odds for Angels vs. Red Sox on Tuesday

Boston Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi pitches against the Kansas City Royals.
Boston Red Sox pitcher Nathan Eovaldi
(Colin E. Braley / Associated Press)

Angels starter Shohei Ohtani has given up two or fewer earned runs or fewer of his seven starts at home this season. He has issued five walks in his last four home starts after issuing 17 in his first three starts.

The Red Sox will start Nathan Eovaldi, who has yet to surrender more than three earned runs in a road start this season. He has given up two home runs and five walks across his 26.1 innings in five road starts this season.

The Angels have scored at least four runs in 22 of their last 27 games and lead the MLB in percentage of home games that have gone over the total (66%).

Betting lines for Red Sox-Angels on Tuesday

The Red Sox have won 10 of their last 11 games with five of their last seven coming by one run. They have the MLB’s beat road winning percentage with a 27-15 mark.

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Shohei Ohtani named AL Player of the Week

Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday was named the American League Player of the Week for last week, after hitting six home runs and collecting eight RBIs during a six-game stretch in which the Angels went 5-1.

It’s the fourth time in his career Ohtani has won the honor, and comes after he was named AL Player of the Month in June.

Entering Tuesday, the two-way star is batting .277 with an MLB-leading 31 home runs and 67 RBIs, and as a pitcher has a 3.60 ERA in 12 starts with 83 strikeouts in 60 innings.

Ohtani’s only blemish last week came on the mound, when he gave up a career-high seven earned runs while getting only two outs in a start against the New York Yankees.

He’ll have a chance to bounce-back from that performance on Tuesday night, as he is set to make his 13th start of the season against the Boston Red Sox at Angel Stadium.

As of Monday night, it was unclear if Ohtani would also be in the batting lineup for Tuesday’s game.

It likely will depend on the health status of Angels third baseman Anthony Rendon (hamstring) and outfielder Taylor Ward (finger). Both left Sunday’s game with injuries and were unavailable to take at-bats on Monday (Ward could only enter the game as a pinch-runner).

On Monday night, Angels manager Joe Maddon said the team would re-evaluate the status of both players on Tuesday, holding out hope one or both might be able to return.

But if they remain sidelined while still on the active roster — Maddon said on Monday neither was being placed on the injured list yet — it could leave the Angels with too few healthy bench players for Maddon to feel comfortable sacrificing the designated hitter spot in order to put Ohtani in the batting lineup.

Tuesday is scheduled to be Ohtani’s final pitching appearance before next week’s All-Star break, when he will participate in the Home Run Derby at Coors Field and play both ways in his first career All-Star Game.


Angels’ comeback falls short in 5-4 loss to Red Sox

Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers and first baseman Bobby Dalbec celebrate.
Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (11) and first baseman Bobby Dalbec celebrate after Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, grounds out to seal Boston’s 5-4 win over the Angels on Monday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

It was the right player, at the right moment, in the seemingly perfect situation.

With the tying run at second base, the winning run at first and two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Monday night, “MVP!” chants rained down from the crowd. All 38,201 at Angel Stadium — Angels and Boston Red Sox fans alike — rose to their feet.

Shohei Ohtani was walking up to the plate. And with the Angels trailing by one, on the day of his 27th birthday no less, he had a chance to win the game.

But this time, there was no storybook finish, no magical new scene in Ohtani’s stunning two-way season.

Instead, he hit a ball hard but directly into a shift on the right side of the infield, a groundout to second baseman Christian Arroyo in shallow right field to seal the Angels’ 5-4 defeat.

The ending was one of several missed opportunities Monday for the Angels (42-42), who earlier in the night could have taken the lead in the second inning, potentially chipped away in the fifth and maybe even come all the way back from their game-long deficit in the sixth.

Angels star Shohei Ohtani will hit and pitch in next week’s MLB All-Star game, Angels manager Joe Maddon says.

July 5, 2021

But each time, the Red Sox defense delivered, turning three incredible plays to repeatedly stifle the Angels despite their 11 hits and 13 total baserunners.

After the Angels had cut an early two-run Red Sox lead in half in the second, Luis Rengifo hit a deep drive to center that looked like it would leave the yard for a go-ahead two-run homer. But at the last second, center fielder Kiké Hernández jumped up at the wall and brought the ball back, robbing Rengifo to keep the Red Sox in front.

With the Angels later trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Ohtani dumped a single into left with a runner on second and one out. Left fielder Danny Santana, however, made a perfect throw to the plate, setting up a bang-bang play in which the runner, Jose Rojas, was called out after a video review that Angels manager Joe Maddon disputed postgame.

“There has to be clear and convincing evidence,” Maddon said. “I didn’t see that.”

The Red Sox defense came through again in the sixth. After a leadoff single by Phil Gosselin, Max Stassi was thrown out at second base, his seemingly surefire double erased after another flawless throw by Hernández from the warning track. The next two batters made quick outs to end the inning.

“It’s a huge part of the game,” Maddon said of the Red Sox’s outfield defense. “And they do it really well.”

Fans hold up signs recognizing Shohei Ohtani's 27th birthday during Monday's game against the Boston Red Sox.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Still, Rojas helped the Angels chip away late, hitting a solo home run in the seventh before making it a one-run game with an RBI single in the ninth. But Ohtani — despite his grounder recording a 101.3-mph exit velocity and .910 expected batting average, according to MLB’s Statcast system — couldn’t complete the comeback.

The Angels had dug too deep of a hole early in the game to recover.

José Suarez’s first start of the season lasted only three innings, as the left-hander gave up two runs in a laborious 75-pitch outing.

Moved into the rotation last week in place of Dylan Bundy after impressing with a 1.98 ERA in nine relief appearances this year, Suarez turned Monday’s game over to Bundy to begin the fourth, struggling to avoid walks or put batters away quickly.

With Jared Walsh, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout, the Angels have three MLB All-Stars in the same season for the first time since 2015.

July 4, 2021

“I was working a little faster than usual, a little different than what I was doing coming out of the bullpen,” Suarez said.

After opening the game with two strikeouts, the left-hander issued consecutive walks and needed 25 total pitches to escape the first inning.

In a 30-pitch second, he fell behind in the count 2-0 to Christian Arroyo before throwing a fastball over the plate that Arroyo belted for a solo home run. Later in the inning, the Red Sox (54-32) scored another run on a walk and two singles.

Though Suarez managed to strand his fourth walk of the game in the third inning, his pitch count had climbed too high — Suarez hadn’t thrown more than 72 pitches in a game this year — to go any further.

“I haven’t lost any faith in him,” Maddon said. “Good learning experience for him tonight against a good ball club. The thing about that team there, you’re not going to get a lot of chase. You’ve got to beat them in the strike zone.”

Bundy gave up only one hit in his 1⅔ innings, but it was a big one: a two-run homer by Rafael Devers in the fourth. Bundy was charged with another unearned run in the fifth after Xander Bogaerts reached on a Rengifo error and later scored on a Santana single.

The Angels bullpen was flawless after that, but the Red Sox defense helped quell each rally the rest of the night — right down to a perfectly placed infield shift at the end.


Shohei Ohtani will hit and pitch during MLB All-Star game

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits a home run against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Two-way star Shohei Ohtani will play both ways in next week’s MLB All-Star game, Angels manager Joe Maddon said Monday.

A day after the league announced Ohtani had become the first player in MLB history to earn All-Star honors as both a pitcher and position player — he had already been voted into the game by fans last week as the American League’s starting designated hitter — Maddon said he had spoken with AL manager Kevin Cash to confirm Ohtani would play both ways in the game, though is hasn’t been decided exactly when he will take the mound.

“He will pitch,” Maddon said. “But how it will happen has not been concluded.”

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Mike Trout ‘ramping up’ workload; Anthony Rendon and Taylor Ward out of Angels starting lineup

Angels manager Joe Maddon and center fielder Mike Trout stand in the dugout during a game.
Angels manager Joe Maddon, left, and center fielder Mike Trout stand in the dugout during a game against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. Trout continues to rehab a calf strain that has kept him out since May.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

Injured center fielder Mike Trout took swings off a pitching machine on the field prior to the Angels’ series-opener against the Boston Red Sox on Monday.

Trout, who has been out since May 17 with a right calf strain and won’t return until at least after the All-Star Break next week, had a compression sleeve over his lower right leg and didn’t appear to be taking full intensity swings, but still drove several balls over the fence in center.

“They’re ramping up his work a little bit,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “The leg is progressing well. According to the doctor, it’s getting toward being completely healed. So everything is still pointing in the right direction.”

Maddon said Trout’s rehab assignment likely won’t happen until after the break.

“Once we get through this week of him doing stuff like that, we’ll sit down and figure it out,” Maddon said.

In other injury news Monday, third baseman Anthony Rendon (hamstring) and outfielder Taylor Ward (finger) were both out of the Angels’ starting lineup after sustaining injuries in the team’s game on Sunday.

According to Maddon, neither were being placed on the injured list as of Monday. But by keeping them on the active roster, the Angels will have a shorthanded bench that could impact whether or not two-way star Shohei Ohtani will play both ways when he takes the mound on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Maddon said the training staff didn’t believe either Rendon nor Ward had suffered anything major. When Maddon spoke to reporters on Monday afternoon, he said he had not received a further update on either’s status.

Maddon also said there is “no due date yet” for Justin Upton (low right back strain) to return from the injured list. Maddon said Upton, who has been out since June 22, still needs to get more “work on the field before he feels he’s going to be completely ready.”

Maddon said he didn’t think Upton would need a rehab assignment.


Betting lines and odds for Angels vs. Red Sox on Monday

Angels infielder David Fletcher bats against the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Angels (42-41), back over .500 after sweeping the Orioles over the holiday weekend, open a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox starting at 6:38 p.m. at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.

Las Vegas opened tonight’s game around pick ‘em, but early action has bet the Red Sox to small -120 favorites with the Angels up to +110.

The Red Sox (53-32 and leading the Rays by 4.5 games in the AL East) are starting Martin Perez (6-4, 4.04 ERA, 1.42 WHIP). Perez shut down the Angels back on May 15 as he allowed just three singles in six innings and combined with three relievers for a four-hit shutout in a 9-0 rout at Fenway. The Red Sox won two of three in that series.

Angels line

The Angels counter with Jose Suarez (3-1, 1.98 ERA, 1.10 WHIP). With the solid pitching matchup, it’s a little surprising that the Over/Under has been set high at 10 runs. Of course, the Red Sox are third in the majors at 5.12 runs per game this season while the Angels are No. 6 at 4.95 (that adds up to 10.07 runs). In fact, both offenses have been hotter of late. The Angels are averaging 6.4 during their current run of six wins in seven games. The Red Sox have won nine of their last 10 games and are averaging 6.2 runs in that span.

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