Angels back over .500: 'Beautiful stuff'

June 20th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- The Angels showed what their offense can do with a four-run third inning on Saturday. Unsurprisingly, it was keyed by a two-run homer from two-way phenom , who now has 22 blasts on the year, including five in his last five games.

The four-run inning backed a solid effort from lefty in an 8-3 win at Angel Stadium and marked the second straight game that saw Ohtani and homer in the same inning. It also gave the Angels a series win and their third straight victory since being swept in a three-game set against Oakland. And they celebrated in style, as they installed a smoke machine, a bubble machine complete with smoke in the bubbles and disco lights in the clubhouse to have some fun after their wins at home.

“It's the hottest club in Orange County," said Sandoval, who allowed three runs over 5 2/3 innings to get the win. “We just installed it this homestand. We’re not sure if it’ll make the travel squad, but it’s fun.”

, who went 3-for-3 on the night, sparked the rally with a leadoff single from the No. 9 spot in the order, then advanced to third on a heads-up play on a popup to the catcher from . Fletcher noticed that catcher Jake Rogers casually lobbed the ball back to pitcher Wily Peralta and sprinted for second after tagging up. Peralta's throw to second ended up in the outfield, allowing Fletcher to reach third base.

"Just beautiful stuff,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Somebody asked me earlier today what it means to play 1985 baseball and there's your answer. That was wonderful."

Ohtani made the Tigers pay for their mistake, as he hammered a 1-1 fastball from Peralta to left field for his third homer since announcing on Friday that he's set to participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby. The 22 homers tied a career high set by Ohtani in 2018 and also moved him within one of Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Major League lead in homers.

Maddon couldn’t believe the way that Ohtani smacked the ball down the left-field line, noting he’s only seen a few homers like it in the Majors.

"I've seen that three times,” Maddon said. “I saw David Ortiz do it with the Twins and I saw Bernie Williams do it and then I saw it again tonight. That's like a severe right-handed pull hitter the way that ball left the bat and how loud it was with the trajectory and everything about it. You have to be super strong to do it, and to witness it on the field is really impressive. He's a dangerous hitter line to line now."

But the Angels kept it going from there, as extended his hit streak to nine games with a double to left. It came after he doubled twice on Friday. Two batters later, Walsh connected with a first-pitch slider for his 17th homer of the year, giving the Angels a 5-0 lead.

"We had timely hitting, the baserunning, the pitching; it was entertaining,” Maddon said. “We had guys in motion all the time. I thought our effort level couldn't have been better. It starts with Upton and I guess ends with Fletch at the bottom, but we've got everything in between."

It was yet another big inning for an Angels offense that has started to get going despite superstar Mike Trout being out of action until July with a right calf strain. The Angels have won nine of their last 12 games to improve to one game over .500 at 36-35. They've averaged 7.1 runs per game over that span and have scored at least four runs in 14 straight games.

"They're feeding off each other,” Maddon said. “The baton has been passed. I can't emphasize how much J-Up has set the tone. Ohtani's been hot. Jared has really ascended. We've been missing Anthony [Rendon], but he's back now. And then Fletch has had a great month. And of course, [Max] Stassi. And Juan Lagares has been swinging the bat better. [José] Iglesias, too. I feel like I'm describing the whole team because the whole group has been contributing and that's what happens to allow you to score seven runs a game."