Ohtani homers, drives in 4 as Angels beat Blue Jays 7-1

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DUNEDIN, Fla. — Shohei Ohtani homered and drove in four runs, Andrew Heaney pitched six scoreless innings and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 7-1 on Friday night.

Ohtani completed a four-run second with a three-run double to deep right-center off T.J. Zeuch. He also connected for a 422-foot solo drive to center during Los Angeles’ three-run fifth.

“Very forceful swing,” Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s definitely not a sugar-coated swing.”

Heaney (1-1) allowed three hits, struck out nine and walked two in the second game at TD Ballpark. The Angels also won the first regular-season game at Toronto’s spring training stadium, 7-5 in 11 innings on Thursday night.

Jared Walsh hit a two-run drive off Zeuch (0-1) in the fifth as Los Angeles improved to 6-2 and matched the best eight-game start in franchise history (1970, 2017 and 2018).

Zeuch, who replaced opener David Phelps in the second, allowed seven runs and six hits in 3 1/3 innings.

Los Angeles right fielder Dexter Fowler left in the second inning with a left knee contusion after stepping awkwardly on second base on David Fletcher‘s run-scoring fielder’s choice. After being on the ground for several minutes, Fowler was able to walk to a cart that took him off the field.

“I don’t think it’s bad, fortunately,” Maddon said.

Maddon thinks it is possible that the Angels won’t need to make a roster move following Fowler’s injury.

The Angels had scored the winning runs in their final trip to the plate in each of their first five victories this season.

Marcus Semien, who had two of Toronto’s five hits, scored on Chris Rodriguez’s wild pitch in the eighth.

“We’ve just got to relax a little bit and get good pitches,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “As a team, we’re expanding the zone a lot and we’re paying the price.”

BUFFALO-BOUND

The Blue Jays and their Triple-A team in Buffalo announced a joint multimillion dollar renovation project to prepare Sahlen Field for expected big league games later this season. The project will have the minor league team begin its season next month in Trenton, New Jersey. The Blue Jays played home games in Buffalo last year due to the ongoing Canada-US border closure. Toronto is scheduled to remain at TD Ballpark through May. No date has been set for a Blue Jays move to Sahlen Field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Angels: Ohtani, who had his pitching start this weekend pushed back due to a blister on his right hand, threw in the outfield before the game. “We want to make it well-well,” Maddon said. The session included long tossing. “Feels much better,” Ohtani said through a translator. … RHP Alex Cobb had his start moved back one day to Sunday due to a blister.

Blue Jays: Placed OF Teoscar Hernandez on the injured list after he was exposed to someone with a positive coronavirus case outside of the team. LHP Ryan Borucki also went on the injured list with vaccine side effects, which included a fever and fatigue. LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. left after two innings with vaccination-related symptoms.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays left-hander Steven Matz (1-0) and Angels left-hander Jose Quintana (0-0) are Saturday night’s scheduled starters. Quintana is 7-2 with an 1.88 ERA in 10 starts against Toronto.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.