Angels News: Late Shohei Ohtani Home Run Eases Joe Maddon’s Concerns
Shohei Ohtani, 2021 Season
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Angels dropped their second straight series to the Seattle Mariners on Sunday, losing 7-4 in a game that never felt in reach. The Mariners put up six runs before the Angels could even get one across, and it was 7-2 heading into the final frame. The only players on Joe Maddon’s offense who could muster anything productive were Shohei Ohtani and Jose Iglesias.

Iglesias went 3-for-4 in the game, knocking in two RBI’s in the sixth inning via a double. Meanwhile, Ohtani — who had struck out six times in the first two games of the series — went 2-for-3 with a single, a home run, and two walks. The home run came in the ninth with the game out of reach, but Maddon saw it as a silver lining.

Through the first two games of the series, Maddon was concerned that the Home Run Derby may have thrown off Ohtani’s swing mechanics, leading him to pull the ball instead of driving through it. The home run to center field eased those concerns, according to Jack Harris of The L.A. Times:

“He might have been off mechanically a little bit, more in a pull mode than normal,” Maddon said when asked if Ohtani’s derby appearance had been having any effect on his swing. “That’s why I liked that home run to dead center at the end of the game. That’s what he’s been doing.”

One of Ohtani’s best gifts as a hitter is his ability to hit the ball with power to all sides of the field. He’s just as dominant going opposite-field as he is when he pulls the ball, making it extremely difficult to pitch to him.

Maddon felt that the Home Run Derby had forced Ohtani into pull mode, likely because that’s the best way to succeed in the annual event. However, hitting a home run — one that was a breaking ball low and out of the zone — to dead center field shows that his mechanics may be coming back.

If the Angels want to rally to get back in the playoff picture before next week’s trade deadline, they’re going to need every bit of greatness that Ohtani can give.

Patrick Sandoval unhappy with mistakes

In baseball, sometimes just one or two mistakes can lead to catastrophic results. That’s what happened to Sandoval in Sunday’s loss. He pitched seven innings and struck out nine batters, but two bad pitches — one to Luis Torrens and one to Ty France — gave the Mariners four runs. An error and other miscues in the first inning gave them two more, leading to the 7-4 loss.

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