Monday night’s matchup between the Los Angeles Angels and New York Yankees was as instant a classic as a late August regular season game can be between two teams separated by over 20 games in the standings. And in the end, it was the Angels that came out on top in a tightly contested 4-3 victory.
Shohei Ohtani was the major hero at the plate, breaking a 2-2 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run home run. All four of the Angels runs came via the long ball, with Luis Rengifo and Mike Ford each hitting solo shots in the second and fourth frame, respectively.
Not only did fans get to witness a tie-breaking home run by Ohtani, they also saw the other American League MVP favorite — Aaron Judge — blast a 434-foot homer after being intentionally walked twice. Angels interim manager Phil Nevin twice made the decision to give Judge a free base with a man on second.
Nevin praised both the Angels and Yankees for playing an exciting game of baseball that had high entertainment value regardless of rooting interest, according to Doug Padilla of The O.C. Register:
“That was a great ballgame just to be a part of,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “I think both teams played very well and from the entertainment side of it, once I let Judge take a couple of swings … that’s why you do those things. And Sho’s obviously was a big one too.”
Beyond helping the Angels to a victory, Ohtani also firmly planted himself in the MVP debate alongside Judge. And while that has never been Ohtani’s goal, he is happy to see himself continue to find personal success.
“Of course it’s important for a player to be able to have a season like this,” Ohtani said through a team representative. “I want to be able to keep this pace and continue to play in games.”
Ohtani is coming off of a weekend series with the Toronto Blue Jays in which he dominated both as a pitcher and a hitter. On Monday, he had only plate opportunities to impact the game, and he did so in an immense way.
It was the prototype of the bloop-and-blast sequence that has become so common in today’s game. Mike Trout reached base via an end-of-the-bat single that landed just shy of Judge’s reach in center field. Then, Ohtani took a 1-2 splitter away to the second row of right center field.
The Angels have now won four games in a row, all against teams currently in the playoff picture.
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