Shohei Ohtani and Angels make dubious history in seven home-run loss to Athletics

Angels star Shohei Ohtani hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of an 8-7 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of an 8-7 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Thursday. Ohtani hit his 23rd and 24th home runs of the season.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Any home run that Shohei Ohtani has hit has been baseball poetry.

There’s the familiar crack of the bat when the ball hits the barrel. The fans rise to their feet and collectively gasp. The ball clears the wall to the symphony of a roar of cheers.

On Thursday afternoon at Angel Stadium, that scene played out twice for Ohtani — as the star hit his 23rd and 24th home runs of the season — and another five times off the bats of Kurt Suzuki, Taylor Ward, Jo Adell, Jared Walsh and Mickey Moniak.


But the seven home runs, an Angels record for most solo homers in a game, were not enough to beat the Oakland Athletics, who won 8-7.

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“I think we swung it really good,” interim manager Phil Nevin said after the loss. “Definitely, I’ve never seen that.

“I guess they always say solo home runs don’t beat you, but feel like if you hit seven, you might. Didn’t work out for us.”

Ohtani left Wednesday’s game in the seventh inning with what Nevin called a mild forearm cramp in his right arm. The team was not worried about the issue, but Ohtani put any lingering concerns to bed in his first at-bat Thursday.

A’s starter Paul Blackburn threw a 1-and-1 four-seam fastball to Ohtani, which the two-time All-Star hit deep over a billboard along the left-field fence.

He trotted around the bases, lightly clapping his fist when he reached home, but aside from some additional high-fives in the dugout, Ohtani was straight-faced. Not even the cowboy hat was doled out for its usual celebration of home run hitters.

Ohtani did break out a smile for the home run by Suzuki in the next inning that gave the Angels a 2-0 lead. This time, the cowboy hat did make its way onto the veteran catcher’s head.

Shohei Ohtani smiles after hitting a single during the fifth inning Thursday.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Ohtani’s second home run, in the seventh, was more of a celebration for him, cowboy hat and all. It was the fifth time this season he had a multi-home run game and the 11th time in his career.

The other homers: Ward, which caused center fielder Ramon Laureano to comically slip and fall on his backside at the warning track while tracking the ball; Adell, which he hit over to the rocks in the outfield; and Walsh and newcomer Moniak, who both hit theirs off the digital billboards in right-center field.

The offensive effort was not enough to overcome the bad pitching that allowed the A’s to score eight times between the third and fourth innings.

“Today was a little bit of a different baseball game that I have probably been a part of,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Very interesting box score. I’m happy that our eight held up, and we were able to get a win.”

The Angels lost their 2-0 lead by the third inning, when Janson Junk loaded the bases, then gave up six earned runs on three consecutive run-scoring extra-base hits; two doubles and a home run by Seth Brown.

Touki Toussaint replaced Junk in the third inning and pitched 4 1/3 innings, giving up a two-run home run to Laureano in the fourth.

Mike Trout update

Angels star Mike Trout swings in the on-deck circle against the Baltimore Orioles on July 7.
(Julio Cortez / Associated Press)

Mike Trout has continued to make progress in his recovery and return from a back injury.

On Thursday, Angels athletic trainer Mike Frostad said the center fielder started his rotational work the day before. That work involves exercises targeted toward strengthening his muscles in preparation for eventually swinging a bat.

“Mike’s doing well,” Frostad said before the Angels’ matinee with the Oakland Athletics. “He’s progressing as we expected and he’s just continuing to go through his program right now. Everything’s looking good.”

There is no timeline for when he will start swinging a bat as his return is being handled day to day. The Angels also have not discussed a rehabilitation assignment for Trout.

“He’s feeling good, that’s the best thing right now,” Frostad said. “He’s come back after this first day [of rotation work] and he’s doing good.”

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Trout will not travel with the team for their road series against the Seattle Mariners. He will continue his program and get work done at the Angel Stadium facilities.

Trout has not played since getting pulled from the middle of a game against the Houston Astros on July 12 with back spasms. He was put on the 10-day injured list later that week with left rib cage inflammation and was given a cortisone shot July 21 to help alleviate discomfort and aid in the recovery process.

He saw a spine specialist, who said the Angels star had costovertebral dysfunction at T5, which the team announced July 27. The injury term refers to a joint connected to a rib at the thoracic section of his spine, which became inflamed.

Trout and the team are not sure what caused the injury. He did speculate the uptick in swings he was taking between the indoor batting cages and outdoor batting practice was a primary factor — overuse of the joint can cause it to become inflamed.

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