ARLINGTON, Texas — Angels manager Joe Maddon ordered the second bases-loaded intentional walk of his career and only the third in the majors since at least 1950, and Shohei Ohtani homered twice to lead Los Angeles past the Texas Rangers 9-6 on Friday night.
Corey Seager joins Barry Bonds in 1998 and Josh Hamilton in 2008 in being given first base with the bases full. Hamilton’s free pass was also called by Maddon, who was then managing the Tampa Bay Rays against the Rangers.
Maddon visited with Austin Warren, who had walked his only previous batter to load the bases in the fourth inning with one out, then signaled that Los Angeles wanted to walk Seager, the two-time All-Star who joined Texas this season on a 10-year, $325 million contract. Charlie Culberson scored to put Texas ahead 4-2.
Maddon called his visit to the mound “a Hallmark kind of moment.”
“I thought by walking Seager there, of course, just trying to stay out of a big blow,” Maddon said. “And also just to stir the group up, quite frankly.
“I walked out there and looked at (Warren). I said, `How `bout …’ and then he kind of said, `Putting him on.’ I said, `Yeah, how `bout putting him on?’ And he kind of smiled. And then the infielders kind of dug it, too.”
Warren admitted he was surprised. “But, I mean, I’m not going to tell Joe Maddon no,” he said.
“Maybe he hits a grand slam. Maybe he hits into a double play,” Texas manager Chris Woodward said.
Mitch Garver followed with a sacrifice fly to the warning track, and Warren later balked in Marcus Semien to make it 6-2. The Angels answered with a five-run fifth that included Ohtani’s second homer to lead 7-6.
“The balk’s what really hurt,” Maddon said. “The balk made it a two-run moment as opposed to a one-run moment, which I was perfectly happy with.”
Bonds’ intentional walk was called by then-Arizona Diamondbacks manager Buck Showalter, now the skipper of the New York Mets.
Both of the previous bases-loaded intentional walks were also part of victories – the Rays over the Rangers 7-4 at the old ballpark across the street from Globe Life Field and the Diamondbacks over the San Francisco Giants 8-7.
Ohtani, last season’s two-way AL MVP, hit the game’s first pitch 406 feet into the Texas bullpen in right-center for his fifth leadoff homer and added a two-run shot in the fifth for his seventh multi-homer game. He came into the game hitting .172 with no RBIs.
“He’s starting to do Shohei things again,” Maddon said.
Culberson had a two-run double and three RBIs for the Rangers. Kolby Allard (0-1), who made 17 starts last season, gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings as the third of seven Texas pitchers in a bullpen game.
The Rangers’ Matt Bush, 36, pitched the first inning for his first start in 143 big-league mound appearances.
The Rangers were 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position, the Angels 1 for 2. … Nathaniel Lowe singled in the second inning and has reached base in all seven Texas games this season. … Ceremonial first pitches were thrown by Dick Bosman, who started the Rangers’ first game on April 15, 1972, in Anaheim, and Dr. Opal Lee, a north Texas native often referred to as the “Grandmother of Juneteenth.”
Angels: OF Taylor Ward (groin) is expected to make his season debut on Saturday night. “He’s ready to roll,” Maddon said. “We’re eager to get him back. He’s going to be a big part of the middle of our lineup.”
Angels RHP Noah Syndergaard (1-0, 0.00 ERA) grew up in nearby Mansfield and, after spending his first six big-league seasons in the National League with the Mets, is scheduled to make his first major league appearance in Arlington on Saturday night. Rangers LHP Taylor Hearn (0-0, 2.25) is another local, growing up 50 miles east of Arlington in Royse City.