Catching up on some Angels news, with a few of the usual suspects of late.
First up is Shohei Ohtani, who hit a 470-foot home run on Tuesday night against the Royals, the longest of his career.
When it’s 470 ft you just KNOW pic.twitter.com/gB9AjnUw0N— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) June 9, 2021
Ohtani is tied for third in the majors with his 17 home runs, trailing only a pair of juniors — Ronald Acuña Jr. and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
It’s been an eventful week for Ohtani, who struck out 10 in six innings last Friday. He was 0-for-2 with a walk at the plate in that game, but his four games since has two home runs and two other games with three walks and a stolen base.
While Ohtani does it all on a baseball field, he’ll be limited this weekend when the Angels play three games in Phoenix against the Diamondbacks. Manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that Ohtani will pitch the series opener on Friday night at Chase Field, but won’t start in the outfield on Saturday or Sunday. From Rhett Bollinger at MLB.com:
“He’ll pitch the first night,” Maddon said. “At this point in the year, until everybody has a more established comfort zone, we’ll just keep him for pinch-hitting purposes.”
The Angels hit a season-high five home runs on Tuesday night, including another from new leadoff man Justin Upton, who re-found his batting stroke of late.
Upton never batted leadoff in his career until May 23 this year, his 15th major league season. Since then he’s hitting .327/.410/.769 with six home runs in 14 games, all but one while batting first. His OPS was .661 when he moved to the top spot in the lineup, and today stands at .812.
Andrew Heaney pitched into the seventh and allowed only one run for the second time in his two June starts, thanks in large part to increased fastball usage this month.
Jeff Fletcher at the Orange County Register explains:
Heaney has allowed two runs in 13 innings in the last two games, throwing 75 percent fastballs on Tuesday and 73 percent last week. The last time he approached those percentages was in 2015. Prior to these two games, he was throwing his fastball 56.5 percent of the time this season.
“I felt really good with my heater tonight,” Heaney said. “When I’m going good, that’s how it goes, and it makes my secondary pitches better.”