Shohei Ohtani belts grand slam, Angels turn triple play … in yet another soul-crushing loss

The Los Angeles Angels employ the most amazing player in professional baseball. Every night, Shohei Ohtani dazzles the league. Whether he’s popping his league-tying 43rd home run or striking out double-digit batters while twirling another gem on the mound, Ohtani never fails to entertain.

And yet, the most incredible thing about the Angels isn’t Ohtani, it’s the team’s ability to find new, excruciating ways to lose baseball games.

The Angels’ latest submission to the team’s ever-growing list of embarrassing losses came Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays. Ohtani belted a second-inning grand slam to tie Matt Olson for the major-league home-run lead and the Angels turned a triple play in the ninth inning. Somehow, Los Angeles still lost 9-6 in extra innings.

The contest should have been over early. Following Ohtani’s slam, the Angels led 5-1 heading into the third inning. The Rays clawed their way back into the game, scoring three runs in the fourth inning and then tying things up with a run in the fifth. Both teams added runs in the seventh, making it 6-6.

With the game still tied in the ninth, the Angels turned to closer Carlos Estevez to keep the Rays off the board. Things looked bleak immediately. Estevez gave up a single to Yandy Díaz to open the frame, and then allowed another single to Randy Arozarena. Díaz advanced to third on the play, putting the go-ahead run just 90 feet away. The Rays had yet to register an out in the inning.

With the Angels on the ropes, the team somehow pulled off a miracle. Harold Ramirez hit a grounder to shortstop, setting up a double play. Angels shortstop Luis Rengifo fielded the ball cleanly, and checked on Díaz at third before firing the ball to second for the first out. Brandon Drury touched second base and thew the ball to first basemen Nolan Schanuel to complete the double play. At some point during those throws, Díaz decided to make a break for home. Schanuel noticed and quickly tossed the ball to catcher Logan O’Hoppe, who tagged Díaz before he touched the plate. Just like that, the Angels got out of the inning with the game still tied.

Despite a leadoff walk in the bottom of the ninth, the Angels failed to score. The game went into extra innings, and the Angels’ luck finally ran out. The Rays plated three runs in the top of the 10th. The Angels couldn’t muster a comeback in the bottom of the frame, losing the contest 9-6.

Shohei Ohtani continues to watch the Angels plummet in the standings. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Shohei Ohtani continues to watch the Angels plummet in the standings. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Angels continue to struggle in August

Friday’s game marks yet another disappointing loss since the Angels went all-in at the trade deadline. Instead of trading Ohtani, the Angels decided to make a push for the playoffs at the deadline. C.J. Cron, Lucas Giolito, Randal Grichuk and Reynaldo Lopez were brought in to help the team down the stretch.

The strategy hasn’t worked. Since Aug. 1, the Angels are 4-11. The team’s playoff odds sit at just 0.6% following Friday’s loss, per FanGraphs.

Barring a superhuman turnaround, the Angels are once again going to waste another season with Ohtani and Mike Trout. Ohtani is expected to leave the club in the offseason, and it’s tough to blame him. It has to be frustrating to break records every single night only to watch your team squander another chance to move up the standings.