The Los Angeles Angels put together a complete performance on Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals, winning 8-1 in a game that was never particularly close. Joe Maddon made some first-time lineup decisions, including Max Stassi in the clean-up spot, and it paid off in a big way, largely thanks to a first inning blast by Shohei Ohtani.
After Justin Upton drew a leadoff walk against Kris Bubic, Ohtani took a hanging breaking ball in the strike zone a whopping 470 feet for a two-run home run. The Angels would go on to hit four more home runs on the night, with Stassi, Upton, Jose Iglesias, and Taylor Ward.
Maddon made sure to give a shout-out to Ohtani for hitting a ball where very few have ever hit one at Angel Stadium, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“That’s the farthest ball I think I’ve seen hit here,” Maddon said. “I’ve never seen one hit there before.”
However, Maddon quickly turned the attention to Andrew Heaney, who allowed just one run and struck out seven batters over 6.2 innings pitched. The Angels manager made sure to praise the starter for the night.
“It was starting pitching and catching the ball. I know we want to talk about the homers, but Andrew was outstanding,” Maddon said. “His fastball was as alive as you’re going to see it. There was just so many nice things that occurred tonight. It’s that formulaic game you’re always looking for.”
Tuesday’s game signaled a continued trend of good baseball from the Halos. With the win, they are now 10-5 in their last 15 games and are three games below .500, their best mark since May 11. They are also 12-10 since the injury to Mike Trout, something that could have been a huge morale killer in the moment.
If the Angels’ starters continue to pitch deep into games and the bats can even be 75% of Tuesday’s level, Maddon’s team could be in good shape moving forward. However — as it’s always been with the Angels — it comes down to consistency.
Stassi homers again
Angels catcher Max Stassi is batting .474 since returning from a concussion on June 1 and has hit three home runs in that span. He did so again on Tuesday, continuing what has been the best stretch of baseball of his career.
Going into 2021, his goal was to prove that his breakout 2020 season was not a fluke, and it appears he’s done that. Now, he just needs to focus on staying healthy and continuing his elite level of play.