Angels' MVP duo powers sweep of Blue Jays

August 28th, 2022

TORONTO -- In a road trip with no room for in-betweens, and made sure to leave on a high note.

The pair of Angels stars capped off their dominance of the Blue Jays with a pair of home runs on Sunday that propelled the Halos to an 8-3 win and an unexpected sweep at Rogers Centre.

“We’re trying to shake things up a little bit,” said Trout, who added an RBI double to his solo homer on Sunday. “We played some good baseball these last three games.”

Los Angeles looked like a team transformed during the three-game series in Toronto, turning a 1-6 start to the road trip -- which included a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rays -- into a palatable 4-6 record with all the momentum in the world heading back to Anaheim.

Ohtani was at the center of it in all three contests.

“Nothing surprises me anymore with him,” said Trout. “He’s unbelievable.”

The two-way star’s opposite-field, two-run blast was “the biggest blow of the game,” as Angels interim manager Phil Nevin put it afterwards. Ohtani took lefty reliever Tim Mayza deep roughly 24 hours after completing a seven-inning, 109-pitch gem the day prior.

His efforts didn’t go unnoticed in the clubhouse.

“It’s pretty incredible,” said Angels starter , who held the Blue Jays to just one run through four-plus innings on Sunday. “Because the day after [a start], I mean, my legs are sore, my back is sore. And he goes out there, has four ABs, helps the team, hits home runs. He does it all. It’s incredible.”

The reigning AL MVP was one of many who seemed to regain some ease and confidence in Toronto.

Unlike Trout, who has maintained a steady production since returning from the IL in Detroit, Ohtani batted just .200 in the first seven games of the road trip, driving in a single run and posting a .604 OPS. The Angels went .198 with a .549 OPS as a team during that time.

As soon as the final series started, though, they looked unbeatable.

“We were just kind of plugging away,” said Davidson. “In Tampa, things just didn’t work out for us. … It was just one of those that we said, ‘All right, let’s get out of Tampa, let’s go to Toronto.’ And every series is a new start. It’s like, ‘All right, we’re 0-0 against this team for this series, so let’s go after it today.’”

The Angels slugged their way to 22 runs over three games in Canada. And while Ohtani and Trout delivered all that’s expected from a pair of MVPs, the contributions came from all over the lineup.

Andrew Velazquez homered in back-to-back games to start the series, Jo Adell and Kurt Suzuki added their own long balls and David Fletcher set the tone each time from the leadoff spot.

“We really played inspired [baseball] all around,” said Nevin. “We have good hitters in there, guys with track records who are doing some things, and it’s nice to see some young guys come up and have a nice weekend. It’s good for the psyche. It’ll be a fun flight home.”

Ohtani and the rest of the pitching staff also put on a clinic against the Blue Jays, allowing just three runs over three games, including shutouts on Friday and Saturday.

Aided by great defense from Velazquez and Fletcher in the middle infield, Davidson gave the Angels a solid start in the finale, working around five walks to keep the Blue Jays at bay. He allowed just three hits and struck out five batters on 84 pitches.

“It’s a really good lineup over there,” said Davidson. “And we played extremely good defense today.”

A convincing sweep against a club in the thick of the AL Wild Card race also served as a nice reminder of what this team can accomplish -- especially considering how the road trip started. Though a string of miscues and bad luck derailed the first part of it, there are still positive takeaways as the Angels fly back to Anaheim to face the Yankees.

“[Our guys] are not lying down,” said Nevin. “They understand what these games mean, they know they’re important to the entire league. We’ve talked about it.”

Their next chance to build on that is right around the corner.