KANSAS CITY -- It didn't take long for Shohei Ohtani to take to a change in the batting order.Batting seventh for the first time on Friday night, the Angels' designated hitter registered his first career double in his first at-bat, then he added a single in the eighth for his
KANSAS CITY -- It didn't take long for Shohei Ohtani to take to a change in the batting order.
Batting seventh for the first time on Friday night, the Angels' designated hitter registered his first career double in his first at-bat, then he added a single in the eighth for his first multi-hit game since April 4, as the Halos rallied for a 5-4 over the Royals, extending their winning streak to six games and improving to 12-3 on the season..
"I don't care where I hit in the order, as long as I'm in the lineup," Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "Plus, I had a good hitter in [Andrelton Simmons] hitting behind me, so I felt comfortable about that."
Facing Royals right-hander Jason Hammel in the second inning, Ohtani fought off an inside fastball on a 2-2 count and sent it down the left-field line for his first two-base hit. He struck out in his second at-bat, in the fourth, but not before turning an 0-2 count into a full one by fouling off three pitches.
In the sixth inning, Kansas City brought in left-handed side-armer Tim Hill. Ohtani hit a high chopper toward second base and nearly beat Whit Merrifield's throw to first, but he was out by half a step. Against right-hander Justin Grimm in the eighth, Ohtani worked the count from 0-2 to 2-2 before lining a single to center. After making his way to third, he sprinted home on Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly for the deciding run.
The two-way phenom had hit eighth in his six previous starts at DH.
"I like him anywhere in the lineup," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We want Shohei to get his feet on the ground. It's his first go-around seeing a lot of these pitchers, and he's doing very well. I think it makes our lineup incredibly deep when you have him hitting down a little lower, just for the fact of the guys are swinging the bat up in front and maybe can set the table for him, too. We're going to walk before we run, but he's going to be in the lineup swinging the bat as much as we get him in there."
Ohtani is now batting .367 (11-for-30) with five extra-base hits, including three home runs, 11 RBIs and three walks in eight games with an at-bat this season. He's been just as impactful on the mound, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 13 innings. Ohtani is scheduled to make his third pitching appearance in Sunday's series finale at Kauffman Stadium.
Pujols feeling good at 1B
With Ohtani in the lineup at DH, Jose Pujols made his ninth start of the season at first base. Through the first 15 games, Pujols has already played more games at first than he did all of last season, when he was limited to six starts on the field.
Pujols, who is 13 hits shy of 3,000 after going 2-for-5 on Friday, is on pace to start 94 games at first base this season, but Scioscia said his final total might not end up being that high.
"It's a small sample," Scioscia said. "I think there are going to be some weeks he'll play first base a lot and some maybe not as much. It's just going to be how the schedule flows and how he feels, and what the matchups are. But he feels very good right now. I think we're very comfortable right now with how things are working out, but it's a long season. We'll adjust to however we have to."
Pujols, 38, is likely to DH for the remainder of the series as Ohtani prepares for his upcoming start on the mound.
• Right-hander JC Ramirez will undergo Tommy John surgery on Tuesday, general manager Billy Eppler said. The procedure will force Ramirez to miss the rest of the 2018 season.
• The Angels optioned right-hander Felix Pena to Triple-A Salt Lake to clear a roster spot for left-hander Andrew Heaney, who was activated from the disabled list and made his season debut against the Royals on Friday.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.