January 29, 2023

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Ohtani swats 2 homers in wild back-and-forth battle

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ANAHEIM — It was a wild game that saw two-way star Shohei Ohtani homer twice, Taylor Ward homer in his first start in right field since suffering a neck stinger on May 20 and Max Stassi hit a go-ahead solo blast in the seventh.

But it ended with yet another defeat for the Angels, whose bullpen imploded for a third straight game in a crazy 11-10 loss to the Blue Jays in the series finale on Sunday afternoon at Angel Stadium. It marked the fifth straight loss for the Halos, who have dropped nine of their past 12 games.

Ohtani, who hadn’t gone deep since May 22, got it started with a solo shot off right-hander José Berríos in the first inning. And Luis Rengifo added a Little League homer in the second, hitting a triple and scoring on an errant throw to third. Toronto, though, scored six runs (five earned) off left-hander Patrick Sandoval through three innings and the Angels looked headed toward a lopsided loss.

But Ohtani helped get them back in the game with a two-run shot in the third off Berríos, marking his ninth career multihomer game and his third this season. And the Angels tied it on a two-run single by Stassi. Ward gave the Halos a two-run lead in the fourth with his two-run shot, as he showed his weakened right shoulder isn’t affecting him at the plate. He also provided another run with an RBI double in the sixth.

But disaster awaited the bullpen yet again, as right-hander Oliver Ortega threw a scoreless sixth, but came back out for the seventh and struggled. He loaded the bases with nobody out and exited with one out with right-hander Ryan Tepera replacing him. But Tepera continued to have control problems, as he walked in a run and allowed an RBI single to Raimel Tapia before walking in the tying run.

Stassi looked to be the hero with his solo homer in the seventh, but Tepera came back out for the eighth and couldn’t hold the lead. He surrendered a game-tying homer to Bo Bichette before exiting for lefty José Quijada, who was making his first appearance since April 7 after missing time with a right oblique strain. Quijada was greeted with a double by Alejandro Kirk on his first pitch back and allowed a go-ahead RBI double to Lourdes Gurriel Jr. with two outs.

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