Anytime that Shohei Ohtani is on the mound, the Los Angeles Angels are confident they can come out with a win.
Ohtani struck out nine in six innings and Mickey Moniak delivered his second big hit of the series with a two-run double in the seventh as the Angels defeated the Minnesota Twins 4-2 on Sunday.
Alex Kirilloff homered and Carlos Correa had an RBI double for the Twins, who dropped four of six on their Southern California road trip.
Ohtani did not get a decision despite allowing only one run and two hits. It was the fourth time in 10 starts this season the two-way superstar has had nine or more strikeouts.
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“It was a really good one today,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “He's got five wins and kept us in every game. He's given up some runs when we've taken the lead but he seems to have got us to the finish line with us having that lead. He knows when to dial it back for sure.”
The Angels improved to 8-2 when Ohtani starts and took a three-game series for the first time since early May. Ohtani leads the majors with a .142 opponent batting average and is third in strikeouts with 80.
Ohtani threw 99 pitches against the Twins. Of his 62 strikes, 22 were whiffs, which tied his season high.
“Getting the swings and misses are huge and better than having them fouled off. So I’m making my pitches and that's a good sign,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Moniak, who had a tying triple Friday night, delivered a two-run double in the seventh to give the Angels a 3-1 advantage. Pinch-hitter Matt Thaiss drew a leadoff walk to chase starter Pablo López (2-3) and Zach Neto followed with a double to right off Jorge López to set it up for Moniak.
Moniak also nearly robbed Kirilloff of a home run in the eighth. He tried to make a diving catch into the left-field stands on Kirilloff’s solo shot down the line, but the ball popped out of his glove.
“I'll take the game-winning hit all day,” Moniak said. “It's good to get a series win on a day game.”
Chris Devenski (2-0) got the win and Carlos Estévez picked up his 12th save.
Correa got the Twins’ first hit in the third inning. His double to right-center drove in Joey Gallo, who got aboard with a two-out walk.
The Angels evened it in the fourth. Hunter Renfroe and Jared Walsh opened the inning with base hits before Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly brought home Renfroe.
AL Central-leading Minnesota was competitive in every game on the trip against the Dodgers and Angels, but all its losses came in late innings.
“When you lose a handful of close ballgames that you either had the lead in or you had clear opportunities — several clear opportunities — and don’t capitalize, it’s a hard one to swallow,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “We’re on the verge of playing complete baseball games but we’re not there yet.”
Return to form?
Sunday's outing was more in line with what Ohtani showed at the start of the season, when he allowed only two earned runs and eight hits in his first five starts.
The right-hander was 2-1 in his last four outings, but had given up 17 runs and 18 hits, including eight home runs.
“I was trying to control the home runs and not make them feel comfortable at the plate. I was trying to make sure they were not taking good swings,” Ohtani said about Sunday's outing.
The only thing Ohtani wasn't pleased about was his three walks and also a hit batter.
Twins: DH Byron Buxton got the day off after he exited Saturday's game due to right leg tightness.
Angels: LHP Aaron Loup was activated from the injured list after he missed 15 games due to a left hamstring strain.
Twins: RHP Bailey Ober (3-0, 1.78 ERA) makes his third straight start against an interleague opponent in the opener of a three-game series at home against San Francisco.
Angels: RHP Jaime Barria (1-1, 1.96 ERA) gets his first start of the season in the opener of a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox. Barria has made 10 appearances out of the bullpen so far.