Saturday, April 14, 2018

Angels Off to Best Start Since 1979


For a team that has been so much about one player, the Angels keep winning as a group.

On Friday, they made it six victories in a row with key offensive contributions from everyone from a first-ballot Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols, to a pinch-hitter, Luis Valbuena. Five relievers strung together four more shutout innings and catcher Rene Rivera gunned down Whit Merrifield attempting to steal second for the final out.

"It's a team win tonight," starting pitcher Andrew Heaney said after a 5-4 triumph over Kansas City. "I put us in a hole early and they came back. Everybody did a great job."

And that included, naturally, Shohei Ohtani, who has dominated the game and the headlines. This time, the rookie had two hits and scored the winning run.

What's more, the legend of Ohtani and his immense popularity swelled again as the Angels apparently requested that a group of his fans at Kauffman Stadium quell its passion, for the good of the star and his team.

"I heard it," Ohtani, through an interpreter, said of the vocal support he received. "I'm thankful for the cheer. But at the plate I try to focus and block out all the noise."

A local reporter, citing security personnel, noted that someone evidently with the Angels contacted authorities to ask that the clamor be tempered.

"I was aware of that," Ohtani said. "But I wasn't the one who asked for it. I think they just did it so everyone could kind of focus at the plate. I was thankful for that."

And so went another night at the ballpark for the Angels, who improved to 12-3, matching the 1979 club for the best record in franchise history after 15 games.

That '79 group then lost four straight, something that seems unlikely for these Angels...