Blue Jays Control Shohei Ohtani, Beat Angels 6-1

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani looks on before the first inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

TORONTO (AP) — Alejandro Kirk hit two home runs, Santiago Espinal added a two-run homer and the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Los Angeles Angels 6-1 on Saturday.

Kirk hit a leadoff homer against former Blue Jays left-hander Aaron Loup in the seventh inning, then hit a two-run shot off right-hander Jaime Barria in the eighth. It was Kirk’s first multihomer game of the season and the fourth of his career.

Kirk is batting .545 (12 for 22) with three home runs and six RBI in his past seven games.

“Look at the results the last couple of weeks,” Kirk said through a translator. “Everybody’s making adjustments, getting ready, working harder. We know it’s getting close, we’re in the playoff run.”

Toronto won for the 14th time in 20 games and moved to a season-best 13 games above .500 at 59-46. The Blue Jays are 25-11 when they hit two or more home runs.

The Angels, who began the day four games behind the Blue Jays in the AL wild card race, lost their second straight after winning the previous four. Los Angeles is 54-51.

“We’ve got to play better and everybody understands that,” said Angels manager Phil Nevin, who missed the game while serving a one-game suspension for confronting an umpire after Friday’s 4-1 loss.

Shohei Ohtani started for the Angels after leaving Friday’s game in the ninth because of cramps in both legs. Ohtani was hit on the left foot by a pitch in the first inning, doubled in the third, and was intentionally walked in both the fifth and sixth innings.

Ohtani hit his major league-leading 39th home run Friday, but putting him on intentionally worked out for the Blue Jays on Saturday. Right-hander Trevor Richards struck out Mickey Moniak to leave the bases loaded after Ohtani’s free pass in the sixth.

Ohtani struck out looking in the ninth against Blue Jays right-hander Yimi García.

Angels outfielder Taylor Ward left after he was hit in the side of the head by a pitch from Blue Jays right-hander Alek Manoah in the fifth.

Batting with the bases loaded, Ward was hit by a 2-0 pitch clocked at 91 mph. The ball appeared to strike Ward next to his left eye, knocking off his batting helmet.

Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
Los Angeles Angels’ Taylor Ward reacts after being hit by a pitch from Toronto Blue Jays’ Alek Manoah, as Blue Jays catcher Alejandro Kirk looks on during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, July 29, 2023.

Nevin said Ward was undergoing tests at a Toronto hospital, adding that he planned to visit Ward there after leaving the stadium.

“Obviously scary,” Angels infielder Mike Moustakas said. “Anytime anybody gets hit, especially in the face, the first thing you think about is their health.”

Andrew Velazquez ran for Ward, who drove in the first run of the game. Velazquez went to shortstop and Luis Rengifo, who scored on the play, moved to left field in the bottom of the inning.

“That’s probably the worst feeling ever,” Manoah said of hitting Ward. “Definitely want to pray for him and his family. That’s the last thing you want to do, no matter the situation, no matter the team, no matter anything. I feel really bad about it. I’ll definitely be looking to see how he’s doing.”

Before play resumed, Blue Jays manager John Schneider replaced Manoah with Génesis Cabrera (2-1). The left-hander struck out Moustakas and retired Matt Thaiss to end the threat.

Manoah allowed one run and four hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out six.

Toronto answered in the bottom of the fifth when Espinal homered off Angels left-hander Reid Detmers, his second. It was Espinal’s first home run since April 17.

Detmers (2-8) allowed two runs and three hits in 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.

“I really made one mistake and that was pretty much it,” Detmers said.

Bench coach Ray Montgomery managed the Angels in place of Nevin, who was fined an undisclosed amount by Major League Baseball for Friday’s postgame outburst.

Nevin held up a tablet computer and yelled at plate umpire Mike Estabrook as the crew left the field through the visitor’s dugout.

“I feel horrible not being out there today,” Nevin said. “It hurts me. I’m always going to protect my players, but obviously I can’t do what I did after the game.”


After going 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position Friday, Los Angeles went 0 for 10 in the same situations on Saturday.

“We’ve swung the bats so well since the break, really,” Nevin said. “You’re bound to have some down days and I think that’s what happened.”