Ohtani’s 30th HR rallies Angels to 3-2 victory over Yankees

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — In a matchup of the top two contenders for the AL Most Valuable Player, Shohei Ohtani came up with the biggest hit of the night.

The reigning AL MVP became the first player in major league history to hit 30 home runs and record 10 pitching wins in the same season as the Los Angeles Angels rallied for a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

“In a game like this ,with these fans and the way the stadium was, one of the stars was going to rise right there and Shohei got a good one,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said.

Ohtani’s three-run shot to center off a 97.9 mph fastball by Gerrit Cole (10-7) in the sixth put the Angels on top after they had been held to two hits the first five innings. It was the third time in the past four games he went deep.

The Japanese two-way phenom went 5 for 12 with two homers and five RBIs in the three-game series against the Yankees and AL MVP favorite Aaron Judge.

“It definitely leads to motivation for me to do better. I mean trying to go for that hardware,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara of the matchup against Judge. “It’s something that I think about for the most part but I try to take it game by game and then count it all up.”

Judge was hitless in two at-bats but drew two walks after going 4 for 7 with two homers and four RBIs the first two games.

Ohtani nearly connected for a two-run shot in the first inning before center fielder Aaron Hicks jumped up at the wall to snag it. After David Fletcher‘s infield single in the sixth and Mike Trout getting aboard when Yankees shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa booted a grounder, Ohtani got all Cole’s pitch on a 2-0 count to clear the bases.

“Probably the worst fastball of the night. Terrible spot,” said Cole, who went seven innings and allowed three runs (two earned) and six hits with four strikeouts. “I was trying to go away. I wasn’t trying to give in there either. Just a bad miss.”

Ohtani, who is also the first Japanese-born player to hit at least 30 home runs in consecutive seasons, pumped his fist while rounding first base.

“I just missed it on my first at-bat. I wanted that next opportunity,” said Ohtani, “Luckily Trout got on with that error and I was happy to be able to come through.”

The Yankees were held to three hits, and had none after the fifth inning but still had a chance in the ninth. Jimmy Herget walked Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to lead off the ninth, but struck out Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres before Oswaldo Cabrera grounded out to shortstop Andrew Velazquez to end the game. Herget got his fifth save for the Angels, who have won five of their last six.

Patrick Sandoval (5-9) struck out seven and allowed two runs in seven innings to win for the second time in his last three starts.

Cole, who grew up in nearby Newport Beach, had a seven-game winning streak against his boyhood team snapped and lost for the first time in six career starts at Angel Stadium.

“Tough one. It was a pitchers duel and a mistake costs us,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

The Yankees had only one hit the first four innings before breaking through in the fifth. Donaldson led off with a double down the left-field line, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Gleyber Torres lined a double into the right-field gap.

Hicks’ sky high sacrifice fly deep to left field brought in Torres to make it 2-0.

MONTH TO FORGET

The Yankees entered August with the AL’s best record and an 11 1/2 game lead in the AL East, but went 10-18 during the month with minus-12 run differential. New York has a six-game lead over Tampa Bay going into a three-game series with the Rays starting Friday.

It is the Yankees’ worst month since they went 9-19 in September 1991.

“We have got to play better than we have. Simple as that. We’ve got to start racking up some wins,” Boone said. “The unfortunate part of the last several weeks for us has been we’ve been losing these close games and that’s what we got to find a way to punch through.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: RHP Jameson Taillon suffered a left forearm contusion after X-rays were negative for a fracture. Taillon was hit on a line drive by Magneuris Sierra during the second inning of Tuesday’s game. … LHP Nestor Cortes (groin) threw a bullpen session before Wednesday’s game and will throw another one Saturday.

Angels: RHP Michael Lorenzen (right shoulder strain) will make a rehab start for Class A Inland Empire on Friday.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Domingo German (2-2, 3.19 ERA), who goes in Friday’s opener against the Rays, has allowed three runs or fewer in seven straight starts.

Angels: Continue their homestand with three games against Houston starting Friday. LHP Reid Detmers (5-4, 3.47 ERA) is 3-1 since the All-Star break.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.