Shohei Ohtani hit the longest homer of his major league career in the first inning, and the surging Los Angeles Angels pounded a season-high five homers in an 8-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.
Ohtani’s 17th homer of the season was a 470-foot shot deep into the outfield bleachers off Kansas City starter Kris Bubic (1-1). Angels manager Joe Maddon, who first arrived at Angel Stadium in 1994 as a coach, had never seen anything like it.
“That’s the farthest ball I’ve ever seen hit here,” Maddon said. “I’ve never seen one hit there before. … It has an impact on that pitcher, I promise you. That kid is pretty good, and we roughed him up early.”
Ohtani then added a third-inning double that had an even higher exit velocity — 112.6 mph off the bat, compared to 111.7 for his homer.
“He can hit the ball pretty hard, pretty far,” said Bubic, who finally struck out Ohtani in the fifth with a changeup. “In that third at-bat, I at least executed a little better, got the changeup where I wanted it to. The mistakes I made, there’s a reason he is who he is, and he hit them pretty far.”
Max Stassi, José Iglesias and Justin Upton also homered for Los Angeles off Bubic. Taylor Ward added a two-run shot in the eighth as the Angels hit five homers in a game for the first time since 2019.
Andrew Heaney (4-3) allowed six hits and a run while pitching into the seventh inning of his third consecutive win and the Angels’ 10th victory in 15 games overall. Los Angeles’ rotation was among the majors’ worst in several statistical categories in the first two months of the season, but its performances are improving as the Halos rack up wins.
“As much as hitting is contagious, starting pitching is contagious, too,” Heaney said after striking out seven in the 100th start of his career. “Just getting guys on a little roll and building off each other, it’s healthy for a starting pitching staff.”
Hanser Alberto had an RBI double in the seventh for the Royals, who have lost four straight.
After Stassi delivered a two-run homer for the second straight night in the third, Iglesias added a solo shot in the fourth.
Upton followed later in the inning with his fourth homer on the Angels’ six-game homestand, continuing his impressive surge since moving into the leadoff spot for the first time in his major league career in late May. Upton also has an extra-base hit in five consecutive games.
One night after Jackson Kowar threw three wild pitches and didn’t get out of the first inning in his major league debut, Bubic gave up four homers — twice as many as he had allowed in his first 34 innings combined this season. Bubic yielded six hits and six runs with two walks over four innings.
“Four homers on changeups that just weren’t able to get down,” Royals manager Mike Matheny said. “The home run got him. Obviously the walks and putting runners on base didn’t help, but this team can score runs, and they did. The first one just put us on our heels, and it was hard to recover from.”
Although the Angels lost two of three at Kauffman Stadium in April, Los Angeles has won 13 of its last 18 meetings with the Royals since 2018, including the first two games of this series.
IN THE WAY
Kansas City’s Carlos Santana was called out for interference to end the third inning when he moved to avoid a pitch at his feet and accidentally got in Stassi’s way while the Angels catcher attempted to throw out Whit Merrifield stealing second.
Angels: 1B Jared Walsh had a scheduled day off, but came in as a defensive replacement in the eighth. The slugger was batting .343 against right-handers and .206 against left-handers like Bubic.
The series concludes with the Angels’ Griffin Canning (4-4, 5.82 ERA) on the mound. He has a 1.50 career ERA against Kansas City. The Royals counter with Brad Keller (6-4, 5.50), who is 4-0 despite a 3.62 ERA over his last five starts.
SOURCE: The Associated Press