CHICAGO — A near-flawless game for the Angels almost turned into a nightmare on Sunday.
Michael Lorenzen had a shutout and a six-run lead in the ninth inning, but the Angels had to hold for life in a 6-5 win over the Chicago White Sox.
Three of the runs were charged to Lorenzen and two to closer Raisel Iglesias before Ryan Tepera ended it by putting Gavin Sheets on the ground, leaving the bases loaded.
“It’s not always going to go well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It was a little tight at the end of the match, but I like the fact that we held on. That says a lot for us.
This all happened right after Shohei Ohtani was taken out of the game in the top of the ninth with a tight right groin. Ohtani bounced back in a double play in the seventh and didn’t seem to be running at full speed down the line. He signaled to the coaches that he felt something and they pulled him out.
“For safety measures, I was taken out of the game by the coaches, but as of now, I plan to play tomorrow,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, smiling and munching on a pizza. post game.
The ninth drama cast a shadow over what should have been an unequivocal celebration of Lorenzen.
Lorenzen was two out of the Angels’ first individual shutout in nearly four years. He ended up pitching 8 1/3 innings, just after pitching six scoreless innings in his previous start. Lorenzen now has a 3.04 ERA in his first four starts with the Angels.
Leading the offensive end was Trout, who hit his sixth homer of the season in the first inning. He put together another two-run rally with a one-two finish in the third, and he also walked three times.
After missing most of last season with a strained calf, Trout has started this season as well as at any time in a career that has included three MVP awards. He hits .344 with a 1.247 OPS.
While no one should be surprised by Trout, few would have expected Lorenzen to do what he did. He had been a reliever for most of his career with the Cincinnati Reds.
On Sunday, Lorenzen cut through the White Sox lineup effectively and efficiently, needing just 91 pitches to go eight innings.
“I didn’t throw too many stressful pitches,” Lorenzen said. “I was trying to get them to get on the court and a lot of weak contact. I felt good. I haven’t really backed down, maybe I went back three lengths today.
He took the mound with a shot to complete the Angels’ first individual shutout since Andrew Heaney in June 2018, but allowed a pair of runs on three hits.
“Lorenzen was exceptional, and I really wanted him to finish this thing,” Maddon said, “and of course he left.”
Maddon then retired Lorenzen after his 100th pitch – the first Angels pitcher to reach that milestone this year.
“That last run kind of motivated me for the next start,” Lorenzen said. “It’s a nice little punch to the face to keep me motivated for my next start.”
Lorenzen had a lead going into his first pitch because of Trout’s homer.
In the third, Trout doubled after an opening single from Taylor Ward. Ward had two field singles and a walk, continuing his blistering start. Ohtani and Anthony Rendon each made productive outings to lead to Ward and Trout.
In the fourth, the Angels used the walks of Jared Walsh and David Fletcher to set up a run. 9 hitter Andrew Velazquez doubled left fielder AJ Pollock’s glove, driving in a run.
The Angels scored two life-saving insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Jack Mayfield, striking for Ohtani, scored a home run. Jo Adell drove another with a one-two finish.
“You just have to win by one point and we did it,” Maddon said with a smile. “You can browse revisionist history as much as you want. It does not matter. Today was the reality. We won the game by one point.