MINNEAPOLIS — Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, a towering two-run shot in the third inning against Minnesota ace Jose Berrios that fueled a 5-4 victory over the Twins on Monday night.
Ohtani, who made his 2019 debut last week in his return from Tommy John elbow surgery, reached base on four of his five plate appearances. His 429-foot drive off the videoboard facade beneath the second deck in left-center field was the highlight of a three-run, five-hit third inning. The AL Rookie of the Year went deep 22 times in 326 at-bats in 2018.
Tommy La Stella hit the go-ahead homer against Berrios (6-2) in the sixth, his team-leading 10th long ball of the season in 36 games. The 30-year-old second baseman, who came to the Angels in a largely unnoticed trade with the Chicago Cubs, had 10 home runs in 396 major league games entering this season.
Jorge Polanco and Marwin Gonzalez each hit two-run homers off Angels starter Tyler Skaggs (4-3), but the Twins weren’t able to overcome this uncharacteristic vulnerability by their All-Star right-hander. Berrios allowed five runs and a career-high 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings, his shortest start of the year, while walking three. He induced two groundball double plays, minimizing the damage.
The Angels improved to 5-2 on their current road trip, striking first against a Twins team that took the best record in baseball into the evening.
Though Ohtani’s homer immediately after the gaffe rendered it moot, Gonzalez committed a two-base error when he slightly overran Mike Trout‘s line-drive single and startlingly allowed the ball to skip past him into the corner as La Stella scored.
Albert Pujols produced his own blooper for the Angels in the following inning, when he dropped a soft pop-up by Willians Astudillo to first base to put the leadoff man on in the fourth. Pujols even followed fundamentals by putting both hands in place for the catch, but the ball still bounced off the heel of his glove.
Skaggs, David Fletcher and Griffin Canning of the Angels and Byron Buxton, Blake Parker and Mike Morin of the Twins are scheduled for a joint visit to a local children’s hospital on Tuesday morning. When the Angels and Twins meet next week, players from both teams will again share cheer-up efforts at a children’s hospital in Southern California.
Twins: DH Nelson Cruz sat out with a sore left wrist, but an MRI test revealed no structural damage. He said he hopes to start swinging a bat on Tuesday or Wednesday, but he’s not expected to need a stint on the injured list. “I have to be a good kid. Just be patient,” Cruz said.
Angels: RHP Felix Pena (2-1, 3.21 ERA) will start on Tuesday night, after a one-inning opener was used in each of his last three appearances. Pena pitched seven shutout innings in his last turn, allowing only three hits and striking out seven without a walk in a win at Detroit.
Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (3-1, 4.19 ERA) will take the mound in the middle game of the series, coming off his strongest start of the season. He gave up one run on two hits and one walk in six innings, with a career-high 11 strikeouts in a win at Toronto.
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