O'Hoppe displays power with second career multi-homer game

July 10th, 2024

ANAHEIM -- With his production both behind and at the plate this season, Angels catcher had a real case to be named an All-Star for the first time in his career and was viewed as a snub by many when left off the initial American League roster on Sunday.

But O’Hoppe added to his case that he could potentially be added to the squad with a strong performance against a future Hall of Famer on Tuesday night. O’Hoppe homered twice and added a single against veteran right-hander Max Scherzer, getting a hit on the first pitch in his three at-bats. But it wasn’t enough in a 5-4 loss at Angel Stadium. The Angels have now dropped seven of eight in July.

“I watched him growing up a ton, and he’s always been so dominant his whole career, but it doesn’t matter being on the losing end,” O’Hoppe said of Scherzer. “I just knew I couldn’t let good pitches go with a guy like that on the mound.”

It was the second career multihomer performance for O’Hoppe, who has been displaying plenty of power this season and last went deep twice against the Mariners on Sept. 11, 2023. It gave him 14 homers in 78 games this season, which ties the club record for homers before the All-Star break by a catcher with Lance Parrish in 1990. Parish, that same season, was the franchise’s last All-Star catcher, their longest drought at any position.

O’Hoppe, 24, is hitting .282/.334/.491 with 13 doubles and 42 RBIs while seeing a heavy workload behind the plate. His 73 starts at catcher leads the Majors, while his 76 appearances at backstop trails only Seattle’s Cal Raleigh (79 games).

“He showed me that if you throw something in the zone, he’s going to hit the heck out of it and he did that again tonight,” manager Ron Washington said. “He's capable of doing that, and he's doing it. So I'm not surprised. I just hope he keeps it up. And tonight, he tried to put us on his back.”

Baltimore's Adley Rutschman was deservingly voted in as the starting catcher for the American League in this year’s Midsummer Classic. Kansas City veteran Salvador Perez made it as a backup, but they're the only two All-Star catchers in the AL. Three made the squad last summer, and players who missed the initial announcement are typically added in the days leading up as other All-Stars announce they are unable to participate due to injury.

Even if O’Hoppe doesn’t get the nod this year, he still looks the part of a future multiple-time All-Star and face of the franchise. It’s exactly what the Angels envisioned when they acquired him at the 2022 Trade Deadline in a surprising deal that sent outfielder Brandon Marsh to the Phillies.

“They have other catchers out there and they can only take so many,” Washington said. “But his opportunity is going to come. And it's going to come fairly quickly.”

O’Hoppe got the Angels on the board with his first solo shot in the second inning off Scherzer on a first-pitch curveball to tie the game at 1-1. But he couldn’t guide Roansy Contreras deep into the game, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and gave up four runs, including three in the third.

The Angels, though, rallied against Scherzer, scoring twice in the third, keyed by three consecutive doubles from Anthony Rendon, Nolan Schanuel and Taylor Ward. O’Hoppe tied it with his second solo blast in the fourth. This time, it came on a first-pitch fastball.

“The plan was just not letting good pitches go by,” O’Hoppe said. “I faced him in 2022, when he was rehabbing with the Mets. I wasn’t completely foreign to his stuff. But he carved me up then with two punchouts, so it was a lesson learned. You can’t let anything go when he’s on the mound.”

O’Hoppe added a leadoff single in the seventh off Scherzer on a first-pitch slider to spark a potential rally that saw the Angels load the bases with two outs. But they failed to score.

Reliever Luis García surrendered a go-ahead solo blast to Adolis García in the eighth that proved to be the difference.

“We played our butts off tonight,” Washington said. “We put ourselves in a position to do something really good. But we just couldn't get that big hit. But it was two nights in a row our starters gave us only two innings, so we had to maybe use some guys for a little longer than we wanted to.”