Shohei Ohtani puts on show for returning Angels crowd

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani hadn’t pitched in front of a full, rowdy crowd at Angel Stadium since he was a major league rookie three years ago, and he had missed the feeling.

With 30,709 fans cheering them on, Ohtani and the Angels rode that wave of energy to yet another win.

Ohtani yielded five hits and a run over six strong innings, and Taylor Ward hit his first career grand slam in Los Angeles’ 7-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Thursday night.

Ohtani (3-1) also drew two walks at the plate for the Angels, who celebrated the Big A’s return to full capacity with their 15th win in 23 games. The Halos have improved markedly over the past month even without Mike Trout, and Ohtani’s two-way performances are leading the way.

“Definitely felt good pitching in front of a lot of people,” Ohtani said through his translator. “Definitely better than no fans. It gives me energy, gives me confidence. Only good things come out of the fans being there.”

Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher drove in early runs for Los Angeles, and Ward highlighted a five-run seventh by drilling a 418-foot shot to center field for his seventh homer of the season. The Angels stumbled home after a three-game sweep in Oakland interrupted their momentum this week, but Ohtani already sees it returning.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani

“If we can play the ball we were playing during the winning streak, we can do a lot of good things, so today was a good start,” he said.

Ohtani was on again in his 10th mound start of the season, which matches his total during his AL Rookie of the Year campaign. The Japanese star struck out five and issued just one walk to the Tigers, who didn’t get a runner to third base until Schoop hit his 12th homer in the sixth.

“I thought Shohei illustrated all of his talents today,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon, who pulled his starter after 78 pitches. “He shows you a pretty complete game of baseball. … I thought that was a pretty significant day’s work for him. It’s still June, and I want this guy to have one of the greatest seasons ever, so I don’t want to jeopardize his overall health.”

Matt Manning (0-1) allowed four hits and two runs over five innings in the touted right-hander’s solid major league debut for Detroit.

Jonathan Schoop homered off Ohtani in the sixth for the Tigers, whose three-game winning streak ended after they rallied too late against the Angels’ struggling bullpen.

Detroit manager AJ Hinch praised Manning’s effort.

“He walked Ohtani, but I think we should walk Ohtani a lot, to be honest,” Hinch said. “With two runs (allowed while pitching) against Ohtani, it’s going to be tough. But the work we did against Ohtani, we got him out maybe an inning earlier than they would have wanted, and then we got to work against their bullpen.”

Los Angeles had a 7-1 lead heading into the eighth, but reliever Mike Mayers allowed four straight Tigers to reach base and didn’t get an out while giving up three runs.

Raisel Iglesias got the final six outs for his 12th save, but he gave up two run-scoring hits in the eighth and allowed another run on a wild pitch in the ninth.

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