ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani’s line drive left his bat at a whopping 113 mph, but only a 19-degree launch angle. Hugging the ground like an airplane trying to fly below the radar, it streaked all the way over the center field fence.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a ball hit like that, except maybe a golf ball,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “I thought he lined up at center. I did. Every day he does something to impress you.”
The Angels and their fans left the Big A on Sunday not knowing if this was the last piece of baseball magic they would ever see from Ohtani in the home uniform of the Halos on this field.
But another big win made it even more likely that they’ll have at least two more months to enjoy their two-way superstardom.
Ohtani hit his major league-leading 36th homer in Los Angeles’ final home game before the Aug. 1 trade deadline, and the Angels completed a strong homestand with a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Ohtani’s drive in the first inning was his 24th homer in his last 45 games. Only five other major leaguers entered Sunday with more than 24 homers for the entire season, but Ohtani has reignited his power surge in June after the All-Star break with four homers through nine Angels games.
“Every time you see Shohei, he does something to help the team,” said Luis Rengifo, who hit two homers.
While Ohtani’s future is uncertain as the team heads to Detroit, the Halos’ recent team success appears to reduce the chances of a trade as Los Angeles owner Arte Moreno decides whether to risk losing Ohtani in free agency this winter.
General manager Perry Minasian has said the Angels are unlikely to deal Ohtani if they remain in playoff contention. The Angels are still in the AL race, though it currently features seven teams separated by roughly six games for the bottom two spots.
Andrew Velazquez and Rengifo hit back-to-back homers during the Angels’ four-run fifth inning, and Mickey Moniak extended his longest active hitting streak to 14 games during Los Angeles’ sixth win in eight games.
Tyler Anderson struck out eight as he pitched into the seventh inning for the Angels. Carlos Estévez worked the ninth for his 23rd save, remaining perfect this season in saves.
“It means a lot after we finished the first half,” Estévez said of the Angels’ surge. “We found a way to start again, and that feels really good. Things are going the way we have.”
Ohtani will make his next start Friday in Toronto, Nevin said.
The Angels pushed back Ohtani’s final pitch before the trade deadline to give him an extra day of rest and avoid putting him in line to start a Wednesday afternoon game in hot, humid Atlanta next week — one day after the trade deadline.
Nevin is concerned that the humidity could cause a repeat of the toe blister that bothered Ohtani earlier this month.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.