ANAHEIM — You certainly could have guessed that Shohei Ohtani would be one of the heroes when the Angels’ franchise-record losing streak finally ended.
You probably wouldn’t have picked Andrew Velazquez as the other one.
The Angels’ 14-game nightmare ended when Ohtani pitched seven innings and hit a two-run homer, and Velazquez added a stunning three-run homer, leading the Angels to a 5-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night.
With Mike Trout unavailable because of groin tightness and with Taylor Ward and Anthony Rendon on the injured list, the Angels struggled to mount any sort of offense early. They struck out eight times and did not score in the first four innings against Nick Pivetta, running their scoreless streak to 18 innings.
In the fifth, Ohtani followed a Juan Lagares single by blasting his 12th homer of the season, a drive over the center field fence.
The Angels padded that 2-1 lead an inning later. Jo Adell and Dillon Thomas each walked to start the inning. Two outs later, the Angels hadn’t even gotten a runner to third, and Velazquez stepped to the plate with one hit in his previous 30 at-bats.
He’d struck out in each of his first two trips on Thursday, and he’d just whiffed at two straight splitters from Hirozaku Sawamura. Velazquez then got a fastball over the outer half of the plate and he hammered it over the right field fence.
Ohtani came back to the mound and worked a perfect seventh, finishing off an encouraging bounce-back start.
He had allowed nine runs in his previous two games, including a game last week in New York when the Angels suspected he was tipping his pitches because the Yankees made so much contact. The Yankees hitters whiffed on just three of their 45 swings against Ohtani, who gave up four runs in three innings at Yankee Stadium.
This time Ohtani got three whiffs in the first inning alone, and 18 in the game.
He worked his way out of some trouble in the second and third, when he gave up leadoff hits. In the third, he struck out Red Sox star Rafael Devers on a 101 mph fastball to strand a runner at third. It was Ohtani’s hardest pitch of the season and the hardest pitch for a strikeout in his major league career.
Ohtani allowed the first two hitters of the fifth to reach, on a walk and a single, but he got out of that with just one run scoring.
In the sixth, just after his homer put the Angels ahead 2-1, Ohtani gave up a one-out double to J.D. Martinez. He came back with a strikeout of Alex Verdugo, a walk to Christian Vazquez and then an inning-ending groundout by Franchy Cordero.
Once Ohtani was done, the Angels’ bullpen inherited a four-run lead with six outs to go.
Although the Angels had blown leads in the seventh inning or later in six of the losses during their 14-game streak, they held this one. Ryan Tepera gave up a run in the eighth, but Raisel Iglesias worked a scoreless ninth. It was his first game since giving up a game-tying grand slam on Sunday.
More to come on this story.
Putting on a complete Sho! pic.twitter.com/xeiv6YteqH
— MLB (@MLB) June 10, 2022
Ohtani 101 🔥
— MLB (@MLB) June 10, 2022
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) June 10, 2022