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Jun 22, 2024 9:43 am

Shohei Ohtani aims to help Dodgers salvage split in set vs. Angels

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani politely tipped his batting helmet to his former Los Angeles Angels teammates when he came to bat in the bottom of the first inning on Friday night. He walked.

Ohtani later announced his presence more loudly with a 455-foot monster home run well beyond the center field fence in the fifth inning.

But Ohtani and his new club, the Los Angeles Dodgers, can only earn a split of the two-game series when it wraps up Saturday night at Dodger Stadium. The Angels won the opener, 3-2 in 10 innings to halt a 10-game losing streak against the Dodgers.

The two-time unanimous American League MVP during six seasons with the Angels departed as a free agent after last season and signed a record 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers.

The Angels didn’t need reminders of his prowess but Ohtani delivered anyway by reaching base four times on two hits and two walks, topped by the tape-measure two-run homer.

Afterward, Ohtani reiterated his pre-series comments that it will be more emotional when he returns to Angel Stadium for two games on Sept. 3-4.

Of course, one major difference for Ohtani is that the Angels never made the postseason during his tenure — their last appearance was 2014 — while the Dodgers have made 11 straight trips and have annual expectations of reaching the World Series.

“I really feel that the organization values the long-term approach,” Ohtani said of the Dodgers. “At the same time, we really value winning the game each and every day. So for me, the approach doesn’t really change. We focus on playing each game.”

The homer on Friday was Ohtani’s fifth in the last six games and his National League-leading 22nd of the season.

But the Angels got the victory thanks to Taylor Ward’s game-winning single. Ward had two of the Angels’ four hits.

The Angels also received 7 2/3 strong innings from the bullpen after starter Patrick Sandoval exited after 2 1/3 frames due to left forearm tightness.

“The best part of the night for me was the bullpen coming in and keeping that game close after we lost Sandoval,” Angels manager Ron Washington said. “They did a tremendous job. We scratched a few runs (in the sixth) and in the 10th inning when he bunted him over, we got him in.”

The Dodgers had the tying run on third in the 10th but Carlos Estevez struck out the final two batters for his 14th save.

“We pulled that one back,” Estevez said. “We were losing, whatever. We got this. We had this thing all the way and we delivered.”

Right-hander Tyler Glasnow (7-5, 3.00 ERA) will start for the Dodgers on Saturday.

Glasnow went 0-4 during a six-start winless stretch before beating the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. He pitched seven shutout innings and allowed three hits and one walk while striking out nine.

Glasnow, 30, is 1-1 with a 4.00 ERA in four career starts against the Angels. Brandon Drury, who was ill Friday, is 4-for-5 with two homers off Glasnow, while Kevin Pillar is just 2-for-12.

Right-hander Zach Plesac (1-0, 4.50) performed admirably in his Angels’ debut last Monday after being hastily recalled to start in place of Jose Soriano (abdominal). He starts Saturday due to Soriano being placed on the 15-day injured list.

Plesac worked six innings while defeating the Milwaukee Brewers. He gave up three runs and four hits with the runs scoring on two Milwaukee homers.

The 29-year-old Plesac has faced the Dodgers just once. That start was on June 17, 2022 when he pitched for Cleveland and allowed one run and five hits in six innings during a no-decision.

Ohtani (3-for-7) and Teoscar Hernandez (3-for-6) each have hit a homer off Plesac.

–Field Level Media

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