When the Kansas City Royals were last slated to face Los Angeles Angels Shohei Ohtani, rain at Kauffman Stadium wiped that game away. But today, the Royals and Angels faced in sunny California, and the game was played as per usual. And though Ohtani exited the game in the fifth inning due to a blister, Kansas City saw enough of his talent to be glad they aren’t facing him anytime soon again, as Ohtani and the Angels defeated the Royals 4-3.
Ohtani, the 6’4” Japenese 23-year-old phenom, wasn’t perfect. In this short season, he’s been better with the bat than the arm—Ohtani’s 149 wRC+ ranks 18th among the 302 players with at least 100 plate appearances, while his 3.18 ERA entering today ranks 44th out of 187 starting pitchers—but it hardly matters. A good pitcher is a good pitcher, and seeing a guy who can absolutely rake also pitch like a legit top-of-the-rotation guy results in cognative dissonance wide enough to cross the Grand Canyon.
In each of the first two innings, Kansas City stranded a runner in scoring position, and the Royals loaded the bases in the fourth inning. But all that traffic yielded only one run, as a combination of poor plate appearances and nifty pitching by Ohtani neutralized what could have been a big game. Alex Gordon singled home Mike Moustakas in the fourth inning to score the only run against Ohtani. Ohtani’s final line: four innings pitched, four hits, three walks, four strikeouts, and one run allowed.
As for Kansas City, their starting pitcher was much less interesting: veteran Ian Kennedy. Kennedy deftly maneuvered around a ton of traffic in his five innings, allowing ten baserunners during that time, but only allowing one run.
That run came in part thanks to the bat of noted regicide Ian Kinsler, who doubled in the fifth inning. Zack Cozart doubled him in. As Royals fans have seen for years during his time with the Detroit Tigers, Kinsler continued to drive the knife deeper and deeper. In the very next inning, Kinsler knocked his second extra base hit of the night, a two-run home run against reliever Scott Barlow that untied the game and gave the Angels a 3-1 lead.
The Angels would grab an additional run in the seventh inning, a homer by Justin Upton. That would prove to be very important to them, as the Royals mounted a two-run comeback on another single by Gordon in the eighth inning. But it wasn’t quite enough.
Thus marks the end of the series against the Angels. Kansas City stays in California for a four-game series against the Oakland Athletics before an off day on Monday. The Royals are 21-41.