Ohtani's 36th HR -- all 463 feet -- not enough

July 28th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- When Shohei Ohtani stands in the batter’s box, you have to drop everything and watch. The same way the two-way phenom dropped his bat and watched his 36th homer be demolished to center field on Tuesday night.

Though the Angels fell to the Rockies, 12-3, at Angel Stadium, Ohtani’s generational talent provided excitement in the lopsided loss. After pitching seven innings of one-run ball -- with five strikeouts -- in the series opener against Colorado on Monday night, the 27-year-old had plenty of strength to power a lineup that mustered only eight hits.

The Angels were trailing the Rockies by 10 runs in the fifth when Ohtani stepped up to the plate for his third at-bat that consisted of six sliders. He fell into an 0-2 count quickly and fouled off the slider that was on the lower outside corner to extend the plate appearance.

The next two sliders were a ball in the dirt and fouled off. The sixth and final slider was launched 463 feet to the center-field bleachers, with an exit velocity of 110.4 mph. It was the sixth homer this season that Ohtani has hit over 450 feet, the most in MLB.

“From where we stand, it's the perfect swing and it's really loud, and he finishes so well. That was like the longest [ball] I've seen it in that section,” manager Joe Maddon said. “I've seen him do it on the putting green in dead center, I've seen him go pin high out there, but that thing there was an absolute accelerated baseball.

“When everything comes together for him, it just looks like that. Again, nothing surprises. Nothing this guy’s doing can surprise us right now.”

Ohtani’s two-run homer also plated Juan Lagares, who led off the bottom of the fifth with a double, giving the Angels their first two runs of the game. The right fielder also scored Los Angeles’ lone run in the seventh, but the Rockies were far ahead of the Halos with nine runs.

“I was not happy. Regardless of the lead, even though we had a 10-run lead, and it was only a two-run homer, I'm not trying to give up any runs,” Rockies starting pitcher Austin Gomber said. “Extremely mad at myself for allowing myself to throw a pitch [that] I wasn't convicted. Obviously, he's a really good hitter and you hang your breaking ball, he’s gonna do that.”

It was the only offense that the Angels managed to get on the board after the game got away from them earlier in the night. Left-hander José Suarez had to work around choppy defense out of the gate, which in turn elevated his pitch count.

In the first inning, the Rockies scored two unearned runs through a single, balk, two Jack Mayfield errors and a pair of fielder’s choices.

“It was a leaky dam all night and we just couldn't flood her up, and then eventually it morphed into what you saw,” Maddon said. "Our defense has been that good, and Jacky had a tough time, but I still have a lot of faith in him and everybody else.”

Suarez found a rhythm in the second inning as he retired the side in order, utilizing 11 pitches (10 strikes) which was a vast improvement from the 26 pitches he tossed in the first. But by the end of the third, the southpaw was at 65 pitches after he faced seven batters in which he gave up three runs on a homer and two RBI singles.

His changeup recorded two strikeouts -- among his four of the night -- while inducing eight swings-and-misses. It was a bump in the road for the young pitcher who is making an attempt to stay in the rotation, as he’s made only four starts for the Angels this season.

“There’s no extra pressure for me. I’m always out there to compete,” Suarez said. “There’s good games, there’s bad games, but I just have to go out there and compete.”

With the loss, the Angels fall back to .500 for the 17th time this season. They haven’t reached two games above the .500 mark since July 7.

“This is the easier game for me to forget about,” Maddon said. “Those two-run losses or 3-2s and you got to dissect those. Those are much more difficult, so we just got to throw this one away, come back tomorrow and play it again.”