ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Not even an early exit by Shohei Ohtani could stop the Los Angeles Angels from beating Kansas City again.
Justin Upton homered for the third time in four games and the Angels defeated the Royals 4-3 after Ohtani was removed following the fourth inning because of a blister on his pitching hand Wednesday night.
It was the second time this season Ohtani left a game due to a blister on his right middle finger, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia did not believe this one was as bad as the blister that forced Ohtani out after two innings against Boston on April 17.
The two-way rookie star from Japan warmed up to start the fifth, but catcher Martin Maldonado called for a trainer. Scioscia noticed that Ohtani’s slider and splitter were becoming less effective as the game went on and decided to pull him after he gave up one run on four hits and three walks.
“Bottom line is he started to feel it and it was time to get him out,” Scioscia said.
Still, Ohtani showed his immense talent in spite of the blister. After Alex Gordon knocked in a run to give the Royals a 1-0 lead in the fourth, Ohtani struck out Abraham Almonte to end the inning without further damage after loading the bases with a pair of two-out walks.
“He was throwing his fastball 97, 98 mph, with a good slider and a good split. I’d sure hate to see him when he’s at his best,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
Ohtani, who struck out four, did not get a decision.
But the Angels were still able to pick up their sixth straight win over the Royals. Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Scott Barlow (1-1) that landed in the Kansas City bullpen in left field for a 3-1 lead.
Upton added a solo shot in the seventh on a 3-0 count to make it 4-1, and his 14th of the season proved decisive after Gordon’s two-run single in the eighth cut the margin to 4-3.
“In that situation, Scios obviously thought it was a smart move, and I was able to execute,” Upton said. “I’ve been getting some pitches to hit the last few days and I’ve been able to square them up.”
Cam Bedrosian (3-1) got the win after tossing a scoreless sixth inning. Blake Parker earned his fifth save, striking out Alcides Escobar to end it.
Los Angeles can sweep the season series in Kansas City on July 25 in a game that was rescheduled because of snow in April.
Angels: SS Andrelton Simmons was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of a right ankle sprain sustained when he slipped going down the dugout steps prior to Tuesday’s game. Zack Cozart replaced Simmons at shortstop, and Kaleb Cowart started at 3B after being recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake.
Kansas City traded OF Jon Jay, who signed a one-year contract with the Royals in March, to Arizona for two minor league pitchers.
The Royals acquired Elvis Luciano, an 18-year old right-hander, and Gabe Speier, a 23-year old left-hander.
Yost did not believe the trade had any impact on how his team played and how it might perform as the season goes on, with the likelihood of more moves to come.
“They know what’s going on. It’s a veteran group,” Yost said. “It’s not like they’re a bunch of chickens in there scared that a hawk is flying around.”
Albert Pujols did not play for the second consecutive day to rest his sore left knee, and Scioscia expects him back in the lineup Friday at Minnesota.
Rangers: RHP Jason Hammel (2-5, 5.17 ERA) will start at Oakland on Thursday. Hammel got the win in each of his last two road starts, allowing one run in 12 1/3 innings.
Angels: RHP Garrett Richards (4-4, 3.25) will try to end a string of consecutive road losses against the Twins. Richards is 0-3 in his last five starts.