'Indescribable' Ohtani keys Halos' comeback

All-Star finalist finishes single shy of cycle, has players on both sides in awe

June 27th, 2021

At some point, we shouldn’t be shocked at how good is. The Angels’ designated hitter had himself a day at the plate -- a double, a triple, a homer and three RBIs in Los Angeles’ 6-4 win over the Rays in Sunday afternoon's series finale at Tropicana Field.

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When asked where this game ranks for Ohtani, starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval, who allowed three runs over five innings, said, “I would say it's up there. 

“But I mean, there's so many that are. I couldn't rank this. Man, what he does is unbelievable. I don't know if [the TV cameras] show the dugout after whatever he does. Everyone is fired up, and it keeps everyone locked in. It's awesome. What he does for this team is indescribable.”

After striking out in his first at-bat, Ohtani -- a finalist in American League All-Star voting -- adjusted and created offense for the Halos all around the diamond. In the top of the fourth inning, he worked a nine-pitch walk, but a free pass wasn’t enough. He took second base with his 11th steal of the season. He was the first player in the game to cross home plate, putting the Angels on the board thanks to a single off the bat of .

Heading into Sunday’s matchup, Ohtani led MLB in extra-base hits. He added three more off the Rays to give him 46, starting with an RBI double in the sixth and an RBI triple in the seventh.

"He's special,” said Rays catcher Mike Zunino. “There's no hiding his ability, his talent. Being able to see him three days in a row, hitting-wise is impressive, then knowing every fifth or sixth day he's on the mound throwing 100 [mph]. An unbelievable talent. … For the most part, to a certain point of that game, we did enough to keep him at bay. But [he’s] just a guy that we have to pick our spots a little bit more or make better pitches against, just knowing he's the guy that can't beat us."

Ohtani gave his team some insurance in the top of the ninth, adding a home run to his resume -- leaving him a single shy of the cycle. His 25th homer of the season, tied for second in the Majors, left his bat at 107.5 mph.

“He’s pretty good,” joked Angels skipper Joe Maddon. “Beyond everything you're seeing, this guy really likes to compete. He really likes the moment. There's all this ubiquitous talent that he's got, but he loves to compete, and he plays the game. How about the stolen base today? How about hitting the right-field line? Then hitting the ball left-center oppo? He loves to play, that's what I get from this guy.”

Just to drive home the point of how successful Ohtani is: Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks had thrown 356 fastballs to left-handed hitters in his Major League career without allowing a home run. That was, until Ohtani’s in the ninth.

The Rays ‘pen has been red-hot, owning MLB’s third-best relief ERA. However, Ohtani got the ball rolling, and the hits continued for the Angels’ lineup.

Five of Los Angeles’ 11 hits came off Tampa Bay’s bullpen, including the go-ahead homer from Gosselin, who had three hits.

Maddon continues to be impressed with Gosselin and his ability to stick to a plan, regardless of what happened in a previous at-bat. The skipper cited the “no-quit” attitude that the left fielder and the rest of the lineup have as a key component to their success.

“We came back,” said Maddon. “Definitely does something for your inner confidence. Not only individually, but as a group, too. So I want to believe that's going to do something for internal self-confidence as a group.”