Shohei Ohtani hits his 39th home run, but Angels fall in frustrating loss to Toronto

Angels star hits a solo home run in the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday night.
(Steve Russell / Toronto Star via Getty Images)

The Angels had the bases loaded in the ninth with one out. Down three runs to the Blue Jays, they were supposed to have their best hitter at the plate.

But instead of Shohei Ohtani — who hit his 39th home run of the season in the first inning — Michael Stefanic approached the batter’s box.

Ohtani didn’t bat after experiencing cramping in his lower legs, specifically in his calves, after batting in the eighth, Angels manager Phil Nevin said after a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on Friday.


“We’ll evaluate him probably tomorrow when he gets up, but it’s just cramping right now,” Nevin said. “He’s had a lot of work the last few days and wasn’t able to go.”

Ohtani pitched his first complete game and hit two home runs in the Angels’ doubleheader sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

“Right after his last bat [Friday], he came in and was trying to get some work done and just kept cramping up,” Nevin said.

Asked whether the Angels (54-50) would consider putting Ohtani on the injured list if he didn’t feel better Saturday, Nevin said: “We’re not thinking about that right now. We’re just going to take a look at it tomorrow.”

Nevin didn’t appear worried about Ohtani, who was walking through the clubhouse.

A player who Nevin expressed some injury concern about, however, was Zach Neto, who was scratched before the game began with back stiffness. He also will be evaluated on Saturday, Nevin said.

It was a different mood to end a day that started upbeat.

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Pitcher Lucas Giolito, who met his new teammates for the first time hours before Friday’s game, made his Angels debut two days after being acquired in a deal with the Chicago White Sox.

“Everyone was super cool, welcoming,” Giolito said. “I feel like I fit right in with the team, what we’re trying to do.


“It’s a very close race here trying to get in. It feels like that playoff atmosphere every single game, which I’m all for. I’m bummed out that I didn’t get the job done today to help the team win, but I like what’s happening here.”

Giolito was efficient through his first five innings despite giving up home runs in the second and third. After giving up a couple of singles in the third, he retired the next eight batters.

Giolito ran into trouble in the sixth, with Toronto loading the bases after an Andrew Velazquez fielding error. He left the game after giving up three earned runs and six hits while intentionally walking one and striking out five.

“[My outing was] not the best,” Giolito said. “Felt relatively sharp, threw a lot of strikes, but they hammered my mistakes pretty good.”

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Giolito didn’t get much help from the Angels offense, which was bested by Kevin Gausman and the Blue Jays (58-46). The Angels were 0 for seven with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners stranded.

Ohtani’s home run was the highlight of the night for the Angels, who dropped four games behind Toronto for the final wild-card spot in the American League.


The game ended with a bit of fireworks when Nevin started yelling at plate umpire Mike Estabrook after a called third strike on Stefanic in the ninth inning. Mickey Moniak, who extended his hitting streak to 18 games, lined out to end the game. Nevin continued to yell at Estabrook from the dugout after the final out and had to be held back by an Angels coach.

“I explained to him that I thought the pitch to Stefanic was outside,” Nevin said. “There’s a couple of other ones that are pretty ... you can look them up. I mean, they’re pretty not good.”