ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run homers, including a dramatic game-tying tyer in the bottom of the ninth inning. He had a career-high eight points, the most by a Japanese-born player in major league history.
And somehow, that still wasn’t enough for his Los Angeles Angels to beat the Kansas City Royals.
Whit Merrifield started Round 11 with an RBI brace, and the Royals overcame Ohtani’s historic performance for a 12-11 win on Tuesday night.
Ohtani smashed a 423-foot homer in the sixth and an even shot from 438 feet in the ninth, giving him the biggest RBI game of his five-year United States career. The American League MVP then set the single-game record for RBIs by a Japanese-born player with a sacrificial fly in the 11th inning.
Although he never publicly complains, Ohtani would be perfectly justified in feeling frustrated with the lukewarm performance of his Los Angeles teammates behind his latest exploits. But the Royals knew they had won with their own standout moves, including scoring games for Carlos Santana and rookie Bobby Witt Jr.
“It’s one of the most fun games I’ve ever been in,” said Witt, who played his first game with multiple home runs while making a career-high four runs. “Just up and down there was a lot of energy. It was great. … Every time Ohtani or (Mike) Trout come on the plate, you hold your breath a little bit. It’s fun to watch -play them, and hopefully they don’t do as much damage as they did against us (tonight).”
Ohtani’s eighth RBI wasn’t enough as Merrifield and Kyle Isbel both drove in runs against Jose Quijada (0-2) earlier in the 11th.
Daniel Mengden took out Trout with two angels on base before Ohtani’s flyout, and he retired Jared Walsh on an endgame popup. Mengden made his first save of the season and second of his career as Kansas City held on to its fifth win in six games despite taking a five-point lead in sixth and a three-point lead in ninth.
“Just the energy and the fight, the way we kept hitting,” Kansas City manager Mike Matheny said. “We were taking one, and they kept coming back. That’s what I like to see. … You see a game like that, and that’s the one that starts repeating itself.”
Santana had four hits and a season-high five runs for the Royals, who beat Angels staff despite losing slugger Salvador Perez to a thumb injury in the third inning. Kansas City led 6-1 midway through the sixth before the Angels’ star hitters finally got going.
In addition to Ohtani’s excellence, Walsh doubled, tripled and homered while driving in two runs for the Angels. He fell just before his second cycle in 11 days.
“This one stings,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “This room hurts in there. You feel like you’ve been within your reach many times and you’ve worked hard to get back there. We never quite took the lead, but a lot of good performances. We swung the bats well in some tough spots.”
Ohtani cut the Angels’ deficit to 6-4 when he drove his 14th homer to right center. Royals starter Jonathan Heasley had thrown a four-hitter in the sixth before Ohtani’s shot chased him.
Kansas City then led 10-7 coming in in the bottom of the ninth after Santana’s RBI single and Witt’s two-run homer, but Tyler Wade scored a single and Trout walked before Ohtani brought them home with an explosion undoubtedly on the right.
Dylan Coleman (2-1) blocked two Angels runners in the 10th.
Santana started his monster game with an RBI double and a two-run homer before adding RBI singles in the sixth and eighth. Witt homered in the first inning, added an RBI double against the wall in the seventh and hit a two-run homer in the ninth.
Walsh had three extra hits in four innings midway through the game, but couldn’t get a hit on two more at-bats. He finished a shy single to tie his first career cycle on June 11 against the Mets.
Two Japanese players had previously contested seven points in a major league game. Tadahito Iguchi did it for the White Sox in 2006, and Hideki Matsui tied it for the Yankees in 2009.
Nevin was ejected on a pitching change in the seventh inning after a heated argument with the umpire team. Nevin was angry about a questionable call on Halos reliever Andrew Wantz earlier in the game.
Royals: Perez hurt his thumb while swinging but stayed in the game and ended his at-bat. The recipient said he will have an MRI scan on his left thumb on Wednesday and won’t be surprised if he misses a few days. “Hopefully it’s nothing wrong,” Perez said. “I just have to wait.”
Ohtani (5-4, 3.28 ERA) is looking to string together three straight wins in the series finale against Kansas City’s Daniel Lynch (3-6, 5.19). Ohtani’s only start against Kansas City was back during his AL Rookie of the Year season in 2018.