Shohei Ohtani Hits 44th Homer, Leaves Mound Early; De La Cruz Has 6 RBIs in Reds’ 9-4 Win over Halos
11:27 JST, August 24, 2023
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani hit his major league-leading 44th homer in the first inning before he abruptly left the mound in the second due to arm fatigue during the Los Angeles Angels’ 9-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Elly De La Cruz had a career-high six RBIs with a three-run homer and a three-run triple for Cincinnati following the latest early departure of Ohtani, who has been bothered by nagging injuries on the mound all summer.
Ohtani faced six batters and threw 26 pitches before he departed with a 2-2 count on Christian Encarnacion-Strand, following a brief consultation with manager Phil Nevin and the training staff. Ohtani skipped his previous turn in the Angels’ rotation to rest his arm, and he has now left five starts early this summer with injuries including finger blisters, a cracked fingernail and hand cramping.
Nevin said Ohtani told him that his pitching arm “just didn’t feel right.”
“He told me he didn’t feel any pain,” Nevin said. “It was just more of the same thing he’s been feeling for the last couple of weeks.”
The two-way superstar homered and pitched in the same game for the seventh time this season, with his two-run shot moving him past Atlanta’s Matt Olson to reclaim the MLB lead. Ohtani also left the game as Los Angeles’ designated hitter, and rookie Nolan Schanuel reached base four times after replacing him.
Ohtani got more tests on his arm between games.
“Anytime somebody leaves a game in the second inning, you’re worried about an injury, sure,” Nevin said.
De La Cruz struck out three times, with Ohtani fanning him on a nasty splitter in the first. But the Reds’ sensational 21-year-old rookie shortstop also came up with two huge hits in the Reds’ fourth win in six games.
De La Cruz hit his 11th homer in the fifth, connecting three pitches after Angels shortstop Andrew Velazquez got an error for short-hopping a throw to first on what should have been an inning-ending grounder. Los Angeles also lost Tuesday’s game because Cincinnati scored three unearned runs after Schanuel botched De La Cruz’s grounder that should’ve ended the inning.
“At any point, a game-changing play or an at-bat or a baserunning play, there’s so many ways he’s contributing and helping us win games,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Today it was with the bat, for sure.”
De La Cruz then cleared the bases in the seventh with a triple off Dominic Leone. After driving in only seven previous runs in all of August, De La Cruz became the first Reds batter with at least six RBIs in a game since Colin Moran did it in May 2022.
De La Cruz thrives in Southern California: He had four hits in a game at Dodger Stadium last month, prompting him to jokingly declare Los Angeles was “my city.”
“Oh yeah, all of this, it’s all my city,” a smiling De La Cruz said through a translator Wednesday. “I’m just happy we came out with the victory today. The guys had really good vibes today.”
Starter Andrew Abbott yielded five hits and four walks in four innings for Cincinnati. Buck Farmer (4-5) threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief.
Long Beach native Spencer Steer had three hits and drove in two runs in his second straight big game for Cincinnati against his favorite childhood team.
Tyler Anderson (5-5) relieved Ohtani and allowed just one earned run over 4 2/3 innings for the Angels, whose dreams of ending their eight-year playoff drought are all but dead after 15 losses in their last 20 games.
Mike Trout didn’t play in the first game after feeling sore in the morning, and Nevin said he won’t start the second game. The three-time AL MVP returned Tuesday night from a seven-week injury absence with a broken bone in his hand.
Reid Detmers (3-9, 4.93 ERA) will start the nightcap for Los Angeles. Cincinnati likely is throwing a bullpen game.
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