ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani hit two three-run homers, including a dramatic tie at the bottom of the ninth inning. He ran eight runs in his career, the most by a Japanese-born player in major league history.
And somehow, beating the Kansas City Royals still wasn’t enough for his Los Angeles Angels.
Whit Merrifield led the 11th inning with an RBI double, and the Royals overcame Ohtani’s historic performance with a 12-11 win Tuesday night.
Ohtani smashed a 423-foot homer in the sixth and a 438-foot tie 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 sacrifice fly in the 11th inning.
While he never publicly complains, Ohtani would be perfectly justified in feeling frustrated with his teammates’ tepid pitching performance in Los Angeles behind his latest exploits. But the royals knew they’d won with some notable goals of their own, including landmark plays for Carlos Santana and rookie Bobby Witt Jr.
“This is one of the funnest games I’ve ever been in,” said Witt, who had his first multi-homer game while driving at a career-high in four runs. “Just top down, there was a lot of energy going on. It was a great time. … Every time Ohtani or [Mike]Trout come to the plate, out there you hold your breath a little. It’s fun to watch them play and hopefully they don’t do as much damage as they did against us (tonight).”
Ohtani’s eighth RBI wasn’t enough because Merrifield and Kyle Isbel both drove in runs from Jose Quijada (0-2) earlier in the 11th.
Daniel Mengden beat Trout with two angels on base before Ohtani’s flyout and he pulled Jared Walsh back with a pop up game ending. Mengden made his first save of the season and second of his career as Kansas City held on to their fifth win in six games, despite losing a five-run margin in the sixth and a three-run margin in the ninth.
“Just the energy and the fight, the way we just kept hitting,” said Kansas City manager Mike Matheny. “We would take one and they kept coming back. I like to see that. … You see a game like this, and it’s one that’s starting to repeat itself.”
Santana had four hits and clinched five runs for the Royals, a season-high, who beat the Angels baton despite losing third-inning batter Salvador Perez to a thumb injury. Kansas City led 6-1 halfway through the sixth before the Angels’ star hitters finally got going.
Along with Ohtani’s excellence, Walsh doubled, tripled and scored while driving in two heats for the Angels. He just missed his second cycle in 11 days.
“This one stings,” said Phil Nevin, interim manager of the Angels. “That room hurts there. You feel like he’s within your reach a few times, and you’ve worked hard to get back in. We just never quite got the lead, but a lot of great performances. We swung the bats great in some tight spots.”
Ohtani reduced the Angels’ deficit to 6-4 when he hit his 14th homer to the right center. Royals starter Jonathan Heasley had thrown a four-hit ball into the sixth before Ohtani’s shot chased him.
Kansas City then led 10-7 and reached the bottom of ninth after Santana’s late RBI single and Witt’s double homer, but Tyler Wade singled and Trout passed before Ohtani drove them home with a no-doubt right shot.
Dylan Coleman (2-1) pinned two Angels runners in 10th place.
Santana started his monster game with an RBI double and a two-run homer before adding RBI singles in the sixth and eighth. Witt hit a homer in the first inning, added an RBI double off the wall in the seventh, and delivered a two-run homer in the ninth.
Walsh got three extra base hits in four innings midgame but failed to land in two extra at-bats. He completed a single attempt to hit his first career cycle on June 11 against the Mets.
Two Japanese players had previously raced in seven runs in a major league game. Tadahito Iguchi made it for the White Sox in 2006 and Hideki Matsui for the Yankees in 2009.
Nevin was ejected during a pitching change in the seventh inning after a loud argument with the umpire crew. Nevin was angered by a questionable balk call to Halos aide Andrew Wantz early in the game.
Royals: Perez injured his thumb swinging but stayed in the game and completed his at-bat. The catcher said he will have an MRI on his left thumb on Wednesday and he won’t be surprised if he’s out for a couple of days. “Hopefully it’s nothing serious,” Perez said. “I just have to wait.”
Ohtani (5-4, 3.28 ERA) is looking to back-to-back wins in the series finals against Kansas City’s Daniel Lynch (3-6, 5.19). Ohtani’s only pitching start against Kansas City was back in his AL rookie of the year season in 2018.