ANAHEIM ― As Shohei Ohtani rounded the bases, Jared Walsh stood near the on-deck circle and turned toward the stands, incredulous. He stretched his arms beside himself, the universal gesture for “are you kidding me?”
Ohtani’s second home run of the night came with two runners on base in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Angels trailing by three runs. The moonshot to right field gave Ohtani 861 feet of home runs in a game the Angels lost in the 11th inning, 12-11, before an announced crowd of 20,189 on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.
The crowd got its money’s worth. The Angels rallied from deficits of 5-0, 6-1 and 10-7. Manager Phil Nevin became incensed in the middle of a pitching change and was ejected while standing on the mound. Ten days after he hit for the cycle, Walsh fell a single short of another.
In the top of the 11th inning, Whit Merrifield doubled off Jose Quijada (0-2) to score Nicky Lopez, who began the inning on second base under the extra-inning tiebreaker rule. Merrifield eventually scored from third base on a chopper up the first-base line.
The Angels had runners on first and third with nobody out for Trout and Ohtani in the bottom of the 11th, but could not capitalize. Right-hander Daniel Mengden struck out Trout. Ohtani hit a sacrifice fly to left field, giving him eight RBIs on the night and bringing the Angels within 12-11.
Walsh, however, popped out to foul territory, ending the game a crisp 4 hours and 14 minutes after it began. The Angels (33-38) have lost consecutive games to the Royals (25-42) since winning four of five games in Seattle.
“There were so many great performances tonight, by us, by them,” Nevin said. “This one stings a little bit.”
Carlos Santana and Bobby Witt Jr. were a two-man wrecking crew for the Royals. Santana, the veteran first baseman, went 4 for 5 with five RBIs, falling a triple shy of the cycle himself. Witt, the rookie shortstop, hit two home runs – the first multi-homer game of his career. The two had a hand in 10 of the 12 runs the Angels allowed.
Santana’s RBI single in the eighth inning against Aaron Loup gave Kansas City an 8-7 lead. Witt’s second home run of the game, a two-run blast to right-center field off Jimmy Herget, made it 10-7 in the ninth inning.
That merely set the stage for Ohtani’s latest act of heroism. Tyler Wade led off the ninth inning with a bunt single against Royals closer Scott Barlow. With one out, Trout drew a walk. The Angels drew six walks in addition to their 10 hits.
On a 2-and-2 count, Ohtani got all of a curveball over the plate, launching it 438 feet to right field. He watched the ball soar into the night sky, his 15th home run cutting a formidable path.
The Royals took advantage of their chances against Angels starter Reid Detmers, using two homers and two doubles to jump out to a 5-0 lead.
After falling behind 0-and-2, Witt ended a 10-pitch at-bat with a solo home run in the first inning. Hunter Dozier led off the second inning with a walk and scored on a double by Santana. A double by Merrifield scored Santana to put the Angels in a 3-0 hole.
Dozier led off the fourth inning with a single, setting up a two-run homer by Santana. Detmers made it through the fifth inning on 95 pitches, but that was the end of his leash. The left-hander walked two batters and struck out six. His earned-run average for the season rose to 4.66.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on,” Detmers said. “It’s all kinds of different things. That’s the stuff we have to figure out. I wish it was that easy to figure out. I know there’s some stuff. At the end of the day you just have to compete. I’m glad I got through five innings. Other than that, come here (Wednesday) and work on some stuff.”
Walsh’s solo home run against Royals starter Jonathan Heasley drew the Angels within 5-1, kicking off the comeback bid in the bottom of the fourth inning. His RBI triple in the seventh inning tied the game at 7-7. The Angels had trailed 5-0 in the fourth inning and 6-1 in the sixth.
Now, they will turn to Ohtani yet again to stem the tide of a losing streak. He’ll start Wednesday’s series finale.
The Angels could use a long start from their ace. They burned through six relievers Tuesday, some of whom will be inactive Wednesday. One, Andrew Wantz, allowed a run and threw at least a few extra pitches after being charged with a balk with a runner on base in the sixth inning.
That call drew heat from Nevin when he visited the mound to replace Wantz with Archie Bradley in the seventh inning. The ejection was his first as a manager and fourth in any coaching capacity.
“I’m still baffled by it,” Nevin said of the balk call. “That one confuses me. (Third base umpire Bill Welke) said (Wantz) didn’t stop. It not only cost the run, it cost Wantz about 14 more pitches, a few more batters. We’re up against it down in the ’pen. That’s where most of my frustration came from on that.”