The 5-2 win at Angel stadium provided much more than just another victory on June 9, it also gave interim manager Phil Nevin his first win. After losing 18 of 22 games and falling to nine games behind the first-place Houston Astros, the Angels fired Joe Maddon and it signaled a new voice was needed.
Thursday’s game looked as if it was another doomed start, but home runs from Ohtani and Andrew “Squid” Velazquez provided the Angels all offense they needed, via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:
“Yeah, I think everybody exhaled, took a deep breath,” Nevin said. “I told these guys that for the last, what was it, 13 games, 14? They’ve come every day expecting to win. It’s been the same attitude, the same atmosphere in the clubhouse.
“And when you come in after the game, you see the pain on their faces. I know it’s hurting them. And that means a heck of a lot to the staff, to myself, because they care. They really do. These last two weeks were painful for them.”
Velazquez made a nifty play on a throw home to take a run away from the Red Sox in the top of the 2nd inning, but his three-run home run felt like a weight was lifted off of a beaten-down Angels club:
“I felt like we won a playoff game today,” Velazquez said. “A big relief. Got some momentum. It’s like tomorrow is a new season.”
The Angels handed the ball to closer Raisel Iglesias to finish the game and end the worst stretch of baseball in club history.
Ohtani gives Nevin his first win
Ohtani turned in seven innings with one earned run while striking out six. He provided stability, length, and a fiery attitude this team has lacked for the better part of two weeks.
The club handed the keys to bench coach Phil Nevin in the middle of a horrible streak, but last year’s MVP was the right guy to stop the bleeding:
“I think his first win has more weight than my fourth win of the year,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “It’s always a special thing to get your first win as a manager.”
They now sit at 28-31 in the American League West and 2.5 games out of a Wild Card spot. Despite their rough stretch, the club is still very much in postseason contention, and there’s a lot of baseball left to play.