The Los Angeles Angels lost a crucial game to the Oakland Athletics on Monday night, putting them 6.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot with just 10 days until the trade deadline. Joe Maddon — who is always the optimist — found a silver lining in the start of two-way star Shohei Ohtani, who was lights out in a game where the team needed him the most.
Ohtani tossed a gem on the mound, going 6.0 innings and allowing zero runs. In total, he gave up three hits and one walk while striking out eight. His only flaw was a lack of pitch efficiency, leading to his removal after the sixth inning. It fell apart for the Angels quickly in the seventh, when Steve Cishek gave up two walks and a three-run home run to noted Angels killer Ramon Laureano.
Even still, Maddon had to throw praise Ohtani’s way for the performance he put together. Ignoring the result of the game, Maddon chose to focus on the elite day from the Angels’ best player this season, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“Special, very special man,” Maddon said of Ohtani’s performance. “He rose to the occasion again. Just inventive, game in progress, he started doing different things based on what he thought they may be expecting from him. His velocity was way up. Slider good. Cutter good. Eventually found the split at the very end. You saw the swings he got on the split at the end. Just another special performance on his part.”
Ohtani was less proud of himself than Maddon. Not because of his work on the mound, but because of what he did at the plate. Ohtani went 1-for-4 with a double that nearly scored a run. However, David Fletcher was called out at the plate trying to score from first base.
The Angels star said that he wished he could have given himself more support as a batter.
“As a pitcher, of course you want to have a good game and win the ballgame,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “That’s not aways going to happen. But I’m part of the lineup too, and today I was only able to get one hit.”
It’s hard to pinpoint just one area of “fault” in the Angels’ loss. Yes, Cishek was bad, but he had not allowed a home run in 46 innings and had not allowed an earned run in the month of July. There was no reason to believe he would be unplayable.
The Angels offense also mustered just one run in nine innings despite out-hitting the Athletics 8-7. They simply could not execute with runners on base.
However, Ohtani’s night remains that story, as it is so often. Hopefully, the Angels can avoid the sweep on Tuesday to ensure that Ohtani’s night wasn’t for nothing.
Brandon Marsh dominates
After going 0-for-4 in his debut, it didn’t take long for Brandon Marsh to figure out Major League Baseball. He was phenomenal on Monday night, going 3-for-4 with two singles, a double, and an RBI. Marsh will have a chance to make his case to stay a part of the lineup when Mike Trout and Justin Upton return.