KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani had to get a new bat for his triple that broke open the game.
Ohtani tripled with the bases loaded in a five-run seventh inning to help the streaking Los Angeles Angels beat the Kansas City Royals 7-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.
Ohtani gave one of his bats to a 6-year-old boy, Leo Guastello, who boldly asked for it before the game when the two-way rookie star from Japan was signing autographs.
“He looked really sad when he was asking me,” Ohtani said through a translator. “He really wanted that bat, so I gave it to him. Hopefully he can swing the bat and become a good player someday, but I can’t be doing this all the time or I’ll run out of bats.”
Mike Trout homered for the Angels, and Ian Kinsler went deep on his first swing in his return to the lineup. Nick Tropeano (1-0) pitched shutout ball into the seventh for his first major league win since 2016.
Kole Calhoun had a two-run single in the seventh for Los Angeles, which has won eight of nine.
With two strikes, Ohtani drove a 97 mph fastball from Brandon Maurer to right-center for his first major league triple, scoring Calhoun, Andrelton Simmons and Luis Valbuena.
“The outfielders were playing in, so I knew once it got past them,” Ohtani said. “I wasn’t sitting only on a changeup. He made that pitch really good previously, so I had that in my head. He has a really good, firm fastball, so I was ready for that, too.”
The Royals had walked Ohtani intentionally in the sixth with first base open and Simmons on second.
Ohtani is tied with Trout for the Angels’ lead with 11 RBIs — in 26 at-bats. Trout went 3 for 4 with his fifth home run and has 55 at-bats.
Kinsler led off the game with a home run for the 47th time in his career, driving a 1-0 pitch from Ian Kennedy (1-1) out to left. Kinsler missed the previous 11 games with an adductor strain.
“Looking at video, they score a ton of runs,” Kennedy said. “They’re a veteran lineup. They’re aggressive, but they’re selective in certain situations, too. You have to make your pitches. They have plenty of guys in the lineup that can hurt you with base hits, with power. Ohtani is their eighth hitter and he’s pretty good.”
Tropeano, making his first big league appearance since July 18, 2016, limited the Royals to six hits over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. He had elbow surgery in August 2016 and missed last season.
Tropeano threw 88 pitches, struck out six and walked two.
“A year and a half watching all your buddies play and all I wanted to do was compete,” Tropeano said. “I just wanted to leave it all out on the field.”
Kennedy was removed after six innings and 100 pitches. He allowed seven hits but just the one run on Kinsler’s homer.
The Royals, who have lost eight of 11, have scored a total of 32 runs this season — and 10 of those came in Monday’s victory over Seattle.
Lucas Duda singled home Mike Moustakas, who doubled, with two outs in the eighth for Kansas City.
Royals DH Whit Merrifield hit fifth for the second time in his career. He batted second in the first 10 games of the season. “Whit has been a good table-setter, now let’s see if we can take him from a table-setter to a table-cleaner-upper,” manager Ned Yost said. Jorge Soler replaced Merrifield in the 2-hole and struck out four times. Merrifield went 0 for 4 and stranded three runners. … Angels INF Zack Cozart, who had started the first 13 games, 12 at second base, was given the night off.
The Angels optioned RHP Jamie Barria, who won his big league debut on Wednesday at Texas, and INF Ryan Schimpf to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Royals: OF Alex Gordon, on the disabled list with a left labrum tear, had 2009 surgery on a right labrum tear. He said this feels similar to 2009. “I feel like I’m a different stage of my career right now and surgery is the last thing I want to do,” said the 34-year-old five-time Gold Glove winner. He received a cortisone shot Monday and has been shut down since. “They’re pretty optimistic about it,” Gordon said. “The first thing they (the medical staff) said was, this doesn’t have to be surgery. You hear the labrum tear and you get down in the dumps. This is my last day of not doing anything. After today, I’ll have a lot better answers for you as far as how it feels and maybe the timetable upon the return.”
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney gets the ball Friday night in Kansas City, his first start of the year after beginning the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.
Royals: RHP Jason Hammel will try to build off Sunday’s strong outing. He threw six scoreless innings in a no-decision at Cleveland.