Ohtani homers again; Cozart HR lifts Halos in 13
Two-way Japanese star goes deep in 2nd straight game
ANAHEIM -- Zack Cozart's game-ending home run in the 13th inning Wednesday showed exactly how the Los Angeles Angels can be a multi-faceted team, while winning the opening home series against one of the American League's better clubs.
In topping the Cleveland Indians, 3-2 at Angel Stadium, the Halos won one contest in this series in a tight duel of bullpens with two key home runs, and another with an onslaught of offense in Tuesday's 13-2 drubbing.
And Cozart, a free-agent addition from the Cincinnati Reds this winter, was not the only Angels newcomer to make an impact. Rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani hit a home run for the second consecutive game, with Wednesday's two-run blast off Corey Kluber tying the score 2-2 on a day where offense was at a premium.
"You have to win all kinds of games, and I feel like we have done that overall this year," said Cozart, who was 0-for-4 before connecting on a 3-2 pitch from Indians right-hander Zach McAllister. "It's still early, but each series win is a big series win so we want to keep it going."
Cozart had just one hit in the series before unloading on a 94-mph two-seam fastball. It was the first game-ending home run of his Major League career and the first one for the Angels since Jose Pujols did the same against the A's on Aug. 3, 2016.
"My mind was on trying to get on base for [Michael Trout], once the count got to 3-2," Cozart said. "Maybe that calmed me down a little bit and made me less jumpy. He threw a fastball over the plate and I barreled it up."
Angels starter Tyler Skaggs gave up two runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings, getting out of a bases-loaded situation with one out in the first inning when he got Yonder Alonso to ground into a 1-6-3 double play.
Two batters came to the plate with the bases loaded in the opening inning, but Skaggs was able to limit the damage to a run.
"It was frustrating because I felt great warming up in the bullpen, then I went out there and [things] definitely escalated quickly," Skaggs said. "I kind of diffused it, though. After that it felt like my mechanics got a lot smoother and I started working ahead [in the count]."
The Angels were without a hit into the fifth inning against Kluber, before Andrelton Simmons ended the early no-hit bid with a bunt single. Two batters later, Ohtani went deep to center field.
In three early opportunities as the Angels' designated hitter, Ohtani is 6-for-14 (.429), with three home runs and an .857 slugging percentage. He also won his first start on the mound Sunday at Oakland.
"On the mound he had a great start, and then at the plate he has started to get comfortable," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Corey Kluber is not a guy that gives up a lot of home runs, and he got a ball out over the plate and Shohei got a hold of it."
The Angels bullpen, down to its last pitcher when Noe Ramirez entered the game in the 13th, delivered 8 1/3 scoreless innings. Keynan Middleton pitched two scoreless innings, while Luke Bard went 1 2/3 scoreless.
"Hopefully they are getting their feet on the ground and settled down a little bit," Scioscia said of his relievers. "That's a real good lineup over there and you have to hit your spots. The last couple of nights we did."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Simmons sets up Ohtani: Desperate for baserunners, Simmons beat out a bunt down the third-base line with one out in the fifth inning. It was the Angels' first hit of the game off Kluber, who held Los Angeles to an 0-for-13 showing up to that point. Two batters later, Ohtani tied the game at 2.
Skaggs escapes trouble: Skaggs started a key double play to wiggle out of a first-inning jam and prevented the Indians from taking a big early lead. Following a Brandon Guyer single that only brought home one run despite the bases being full, Skaggs got Alonso to hit into a comebacker. The pitcher fired to Simmons, who completed the inning-ending double play to Pujols at first.
"It was a little chilly, but it's not as chilly as if I was in, like, Cincinnati at this point. It's a little warmer here. It doesn't feel as bad after you hit a walk-off, though. You feel pretty good about it." -- Cozart, after receiving an icy Gatorade shower following the first game-ending home run of his career
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Othani has either recorded a hit or earned the victory in every big league game he has played. The pitching/hitting sensation had a single on Opening Day on Thursday at Oakland, won his first start against the A's on Sunday, then hit home runs in back-to-back games against the Indians on Tuesday and Wednesday.
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
The Angels tried to get Francisco Lindor's stolen base with two outs in the fifth inning overturned, but the play stood. Jason Kipnis then followed with an RBI single, and Skaggs was removed from the game with Cleveland holding a 2-0 lead.
The Angels will face off against the A's on Friday with Parker Bridwell taking the ball in his season debut. Bridwell, who finished the 2017 campaign with a 3.64 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP over 20 starts, was recalled from Triple-A on Tuesday to replace the injured Matthew Shoemaker (forearm) in the rotation.