It was milestone night in St. Petersburg, Florida on Thursday for the Los Angeles Angels.
Shohei Ohtani made history by being the first Japanese-born player in American big league history to hit for cycle – that is, get a home run, triple, double and single –in a game.
Just as importantly, all that batting prowess was the key to the Angels’ 5-3 win over the home Tampa Bay Rays (41-27). It was the Halos’ third consecutive win and again placed them within one game of .500 at 34-35.
All season long the Orange County team flirted with a break-even mark, but fell back with a loss or two. As it stands now, the team is still in fourth place in the American League West and one game back of the third place Oakland A’s.
But back to Shohei. He was humble – but not too humble – about his accomplishment. “I’m very proud of the fact,” he said through an interpreter. “There have been a lot of great players from Japan before me and they weren’t able to accomplish it. Hopefully I can do even better things this season.”
His three-run home run in the first gave his team a lead it would never yield. Two more runs in the fifth on an Albert Pujols home run gave them the Angels a 5-0 lead.
The Rays responded with a three in the bottom of that inning, but that was as close as the home team got.
Ohtani, now batting .281, ended up 4-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Tyler Skaggs (5-6) got the win for the Angels, going five-plus innings. He gave up three runs and seven hits. He struck out five batters and walked two. Cam Bedrosian picked up the save.
Now the Halos will get a chance to really achieve a 2019 milestone when today (Friday) they send Andrew Heaney (1-2) to the mound as the team hopes to balance the books against the Rays.