ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — At least in his own manager’s view, Shohei Ohtani is running away with the AL MVP award.
Ohtani pitched seven strong innings and hit an early RBI single as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Monday night.
In his 15th pitching start of the season and second since the All-Star break, Ohtani (5-1) gave up one run and five hits with five strikeouts. The two-way phenom has allowed a combined one run in two pitching appearances since participating in the Home Run Derby and starting on the mound in the All-Star Game at Colorado this month.
Afterward, manager Joe Maddon scoffed at the notion that Ohtani, who has a 3.04 ERA and leads the majors with 35 home runs, is somehow in a close MVP race as the final two months of the regular season approach.
“I know there are other guys having good years, but you have to stop and really analyze what’s going on here,” Maddon said. “There is nobody that even comes close to what he’s doing. It’s way imbalanced. … When people talk of (the MVP race) being close, it’s not.”
Jack Mayfield added a two-run homer for the Angels, his fourth of the season and third in his last five games. Raisel Iglesias worked a scoreless ninth for his 22nd save in 26 chances.
Rockies starter German Marquez, also an All-Star, kept his team close until Mayfield’s seventh-inning homer. Dom Nunez and Brendan Rodgers went deep for Colorado.
Ohtani gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead two Angels batters into the game when he rolled a broken-bat single through the infield to score David Fletcher from second base.
Ohtani then stole second and scored on Jared Walsh’s one-out single for a 2-0 advantage.
After giving up three hits in the first inning, Marquez (8-8) settled down until running into trouble in the seventh. He permitted four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“I felt a little tired,” Marquez said about his seventh inning. “I felt a little rushed with my delivery and my arm was late. Maybe I got tired.”
Ohtani cruised into the fourth before hitting Trevor Story with a pitch. Story yelled as a 97 mph fastball hit him in the back of the left hand. After being tended to by team medical personnel, he remained in the game.
In the fifth, Nunez got to Ohtani with a home run to right field on a full count.
Facing Nunez again in the seventh, Ohtani struck out the left-handed hitter on a 100 mph fastball for his last out of the game. The right-hander did not issue a walk, and his seven innings matched a season high.
“The first six innings, I was trying to keep my pitch count on the lower side so I wasn’t really going for that strikeout,” Ohtani said through a translator. “In the seventh inning, I knew that was going to be my last one so I was trying to go for the strikeouts. And also, he hit that homer off me on that last at-bat, so I had something left in the tank.”
Mayfield, taking advantage of his playing time with third baseman Anthony Rendon on the injured list, followed Adam Eaton’s infield single leading off the seventh with his home run just inside the left-field foul pole for a 4-1 lead.
“(Marquez) just hung the breaking ball and (Mayfield) hit a fly ball went right down the line,” Rockies manager Bud Black said. “But I thought he held his stuff. Going into the seventh, I thought he had enough left to finish that inning. It just didn’t happen for him. I’ve got to give those guys a little bit of credit.”
Rodgers got the Rockies to 4-2 in the eighth with a home run off left-hander Jose Quintana, his sixth. Colorado then put runners on second and third before Sam Hillard flied out to the wall in center field against Steve Cishek to end the threat.
The Angels added two runs in the eighth on Max Stassi’s single and Eaton’s sacrifice fly.
BLACK IS BACK
Black returned from COVID-19 and contact tracing protocols, ending a 10-day absence that covered eight games. Colorado went 3-5 under acting manager Mike Redmond.
Black said he watched every pitch on television while he was away and communicated with the front office, as well as the coaching staff, via e-mail, text and “old-school phone.”
The fifth-year Rockies skipper said he is not allowed to say if he tested positive for COVID-19.
“I’ve gotta cut you off there,” Black said. “It’s sorta in the bylaws. Sorry.”
Asked if he was ever ill, Black said, “Well, no. It depends on what you think is sick. I don’t think I was sick.”
How was it watching the team play without him?
“On a scale of 1-to-10, with 10 being the weirdest? A 10,” he said.
Rockies: The four Rockies players in COVID-19 and contact tracing protocols, who are now working out in Arizona, continue to make progress. RHP Jhoulys Chacin will pitch in a simulated game Tuesday, while RHP Antonio Senzatela threw a bullpen Monday and is expected to be ready for a minor league game by the weekend. RHP Yency Almonte will throw a bullpen Tuesday, while OF Yonathan Daza will also play in a simulated game Tuesday.
Angels: Walsh left after seven innings and will be re-evaluated Tuesday for an injury to his side. … OF Mike Trout’s recovery from a strained right calf continues to plod along, with an examination Monday showing no setback. Trout has dialed back his rehab in recent days after running the bases twice last week. The three-time AL MVP has been out since May 17. … Rendon, initially expected to return from a left hamstring strain by the end of this month, will miss that projection and will need a minor league rehab assignment before coming back.
The Rockies will send left-hander Austin Gomber (7-5, 3.74 ERA) to the mound in the middle game of the interleague series Tuesday, while the Angels counter with left-hander Jose Suarez (4-3, 2.85).
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