The Los Angeles Angels went into Wednesday night’s game knowing they could not afford a series loss to the Colorado Rockies. Joe Maddon had been openly hoping that the team makes a run at the playoffs, and dropping a series to one of baseball’s worst teams right before the trade deadline would not have helped. Luckily, Shohei Ohtani was there to save the day.
After starter Andrew Heaney allowed two first-inning runs, Ohtani got on base with a single, then scored thanks to Jose Iglesias. Then, after walking in his second plate appearance, he changed the course of the game. In his third appearance, the Angels trailed 3-1 with two runners on base. On a 2-1 count, Ohtani roped a fastball 388 feet for a three-run homer to give the Angels a 4-3 lead.
Justin Upton broke out of his slump just two batters later to extend that lead to 6-3. However, after a Rockies comeback that made it 7-7, Ohtani drew a walk and ultimately scored the game-winning run.
All around, it was one of Ohtani’s most impressive offensive performances of the season. Maddon not only loved what Ohtani did for himself at the plate, but also what he did for the rest of his teammates, according to Megan Garcia of MLB.com:
“He inspires them, there’s no question. None of us have ever seen this kind of player here, who does both sides of the ball,” Maddon said of Ohtani’s influence in the lineup. “I mean, Mike Trout did a lot of this in the past, very similar, but again, we’re also adding in the pitching component of it.”
“It’s interesting. It’s wonderful. When we get the whole band back together, it’ll be interesting to watch,” Maddon said. “But he definitely is inspirational to the rest of the group. And he does it in a very humble way.”
If the Angels want to stay in playoff contention, they’ll need Ohtani to keep inspiring them while they’re short-handed. As they prepare for a critical series against the Oakland Athletics, they won’t have Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, or Jared Walsh for the entire set.
Ohtani has had to do a lot of heavy lifting for the Halos this season, and it may be a couple weeks before the team is fully healthy and he can finally take a breather. However, just a couple more heroic pushes could be enough to get the Angels within range to compete.
Cobb to miss next start
Alex Cobb was scheduled to start against the Athletics on Thursday. However, a blister that formed during his last outing is going to prevent that from happening. Instead, Dylan Bundy will move back out from the bullpen to make a critical start.