The Los Angeles Angels have been playing without playoff hopes for quite some time. Since early August, it appeared that Shohei Ohtani’s MVP candidacy and young players’ development were the only motivators on a nightly basis.
However, their playoff race officially came to an end on Tuesday night. For the second straight night, the Angels gave up 10 runs to the Houston Astros in a losing effort. It was their fifth consecutive loss — all to AL West opponents — and it eliminated the Halos from playoff contention.
The pitching was a mess for the Angels all night long. Starter Packy Naughton allowed four runs over four innings of work. Then, Oliver Ortega gave up three runs in just one-third of an inning and Kyle Tyler gave up three of his own over 2.2 frames.
By the time Austin Warren and Sam Selman each pitched shutout innings, the game was well over. The only silver lining was Ohtani blasting his 45th home run of the season a whopping 445 feet.
Ohtani’s home run had an exit velocity of 116.1, and Joe Maddon was unbelievably impressed after the game, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I think if you chopped that one up, you might get two or three homers out of that one,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It was crushed. I thought his previous at-bat — a line-drive single to right field — was good, also. I’ve seen him hit some fly balls to the opposite side. So it’s a good sign. He’s fine and in position to finish very strongly at the plate and on the mound.”
The home run brought Ohtani back within one home run of the MLB lead. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez remain tied atop the league at 46, but Ohtani is once again threatening to take the lead back.
Although the Angels two-way star has been slumping significantly, he still has 11 games to put together enough home runs to take the lead back. It’s certainly not out of reach by any stretch.
Ohtani’s home run also came in a 10-5 loss, making it the 13th game in which he homered and the Angels lost by four or more runs. That ties Sammy Sosa in 1999 for the most of such games in MLB history.
Ohtani hoping to pitch more
Ohtani is also hoping that his start on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics was not his last. After he was nearly shut down for the year as a pitcher due to general soreness, he believes he can make at least one more start in the team’s final 11 games.