Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani collected another first on Thursday night, driving in three runs with a bases-loaded triple to cap a five-run seventh inning for the Angels in their 7-1 win over the Royals in the series opener at Kauffman Stadium. The Halos ran their winning streak to five games and have an MLB-high 11 wins on the season. Their 11-3 record matches the 1979 team for the best start in franchise history.
It was Ohtani’s first extra-base hit that didn’t wind up as a home run. The left-handed slugger has homered three times this year and is now batting .364 (9-for-26) with 11 RBIs in six starts as the Angels’ designated hitter.
The pitch from Royals reliever Brandon Maurer was a 96.7-mph inside fastball on a 1-2 count, which Ohtani rocketed to right-center with a 106-mph exit velocity. His home-to-third time was 11.49 seconds, per Statcast™.
“The outfielder was playing in, so I figured once the ball went through I could make it to third,” Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.
The Angels entered the inning with a slim 1-0 lead before Kole Calhoun gave them some breathing room with a two-out, two-run single off Royals reliever Blaine Boyer. Andrelton Simmons then walked and Luis Valbuena singled to load the bases, prompting Kansas City manager Ned Yost to bring in Maurer to face Ohtani. He responded by extending the Angels’ lead to 6-0.
“He broke the game open,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “I think Shohei is comfortable in the box. He’s handling a lot of the zone. He’s using all the fields. He’s hitting the ball hard to all fields. You can see why he was such a force when he was hitting over in Japan. He’s got a great swing and a great feel for hitting.”
Ohtani also drew his first intentional walk in the ninth to finish 1-for-3 with three RBIs. Scioscia hinted that he will be back in the Angels’ lineup on Friday against Royals right-hander Jason Hammel before making his third start on the mound on Sunday.