Series Recap: Shohei Ohtani’s Go-Ahead Home Runs Lift Angels Past Yankees
MLB: New York Yankees at Los Angeles Angels
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani is no stranger to a big moment. He has proven on multiple occasions that he is at his best when the lights are brightest. And as the Angels faced a three-game set with the New York Yankees, he did so once again.

Ohtani hit not just one, but two go-ahead home runs that would ultimately be the deciding factor in an Angels 2-1 series win over the American League East-leading Yankees. He also went toe to toe with Aaron Judge — the current MVP frontrunner — to show that he absolutely has a case of his own.

The Angels two-way star even said so following the final game of the series, when he hit a three-run home run to give the team a 3-2 lead in the late innings. He said that the MVP race is absolutely a motivating factor, according to Rhett Bollinger of

“It definitely leads to motivation to do better and try to go for that hardware,” Ohtani said. “It’s something I think about. But for the most part, I take it game by game and at-bat by at-bat. At the end of the day, we’ll count it all up.”

Both Ohtani and Judge hit two home runs in this three-game series. Without the benefit of pitching, Ohtani rose to Judge’s level at the plate.

Below, we break down the entirety of this exhilarating series between the Angels and the Yankees.

Game 1: Angels def. Yankees 4-3

In a back-and-forth affair, the Angels found themselves on the scoreboard first when Luis Rengifo hit a solo home run off of former Oakland Athletics starter Frankie Montas. With Jose Suarez on the mound for the Angels, the team could trust that he would keep things manageable for L.A.’s bats.

He did just that, as Suarez only allowed two runs over his six innings of work. The runs came in the third and fourth innings with a D.J. LeMahieu sacrifice bunt and an Anthony Rizzo solo home run to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

Mike Ford, the Angels new first baseman in relief of the injured Jared Walsh, tied the game up with a solo home run of his own. Then Ohtani went to work in the fifth inning. After Mike Trout got on base with a bloop single to center field, Ohtani took Montas deep to give the Angels a 4-2 lead.

Judge hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to close the gap to 4-3, but it wouldn’t be enough, as Jimmy Herget would secure the save in a series-opening victory.

Game 2: Yankees def. Angels 7-4

Mike Mayers — after a successful first start of the season — struggled mightily against the awoken bats of the Yankees. All seven runs scored were given up by Mayers, two unearned, five via the home run ball.

Andrew Benintendi and Rizzo got the night started with solo homers in the first and second frames. And although the Angels would tie it up at 2 with a Max Stassi home run, the intrigue wouldn’t last too much longer.

An error by Luis Rengifo in the third inning would allow two Yankees runs to score and make it 4-2. Then, Mayers was forced to pitch to Judge with two runners on base. Judge delivered his biggest hit of the series, smashing a three-run home run to essentially put the game out of reach.

Ford would hit another solo home run in this game, a testament to his hot streak since joining the Angels last week, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Halos to mount a comeback.

Game 3: Angels def. Yankees 3-2

Sometimes, one swing is all a team needs to win a baseball game. Wednesday night’s finale was proof of this. Patrick Sandoval and Gerrit Cole were trading blows in the first four innings, with neither team being able to get on the board.

Finally, the Yankees broke open the scoring in the fifth inning. Sandoval allowed back-to-back doubles to Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres to make it 1-0, then a pair of sacrifice flies scored Torres, giving the Yankees a 2-0 advantage.

Sandoval would stay in the game through the seventh inning, finishing with 7.0 innings pitched, seven strikeouts, and two runs allowed on three hits and two walks.

In the sixth inning, a pair of errors gave the Angels two baserunners, David Fletcher and Trout, when Ohtani came up to the plate to face Cole. Ohtani took the first two pitches, both balls, before taking a center-cut fastball 427 feet to give the Angels a 3-2 lead.

That swing gave the Angels a lead they would not give back, and the score would remain deadlocked the rest of the way, with Herget picking up another save.

Now, the Angels get an off day before opening up a series with the Houston Astros on Friday.

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