MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, a towering two-run shot in the third inning against Minnesota ace Jose Berrios that fueled a 5-4 victory over the Twins on Monday night.
Ohtani, who made his 2019 debut last week in his return from Tommy John elbow surgery, reached base on four of his five plate appearances. His 429-foot drive off the videoboard facade beneath the second deck in left-center field was the highlight of a three-run, five-hit third inning. The AL Rookie of the Year went deep 22 times in 326 at-bats in 2018.
Tommy La Stella hit the go-ahead homer against Berrios (6-2) in the sixth, his team-leading 10th long ball of the season in 36 games. The 30-year-old second baseman, who came to the Angels in a largely unnoticed trade with the Chicago Cubs, had 10 home runs in 396 major league games entering this season.
Jorge Polanco and Marwin Gonzalez each hit two-run homers off Angels starter Tyler Skaggs (4-3), but the Twins weren’t able to overcome this uncharacteristic vulnerability by their All-Star right-hander. Berrios allowed five runs and a career-high 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings, his shortest start of the year, while walking three. He induced two groundball double plays, minimizing the damage.
The Angels improved to 5-2 on their current road trip, striking first against a Twins team that took the best record in baseball into the evening.
Though Ohtani’s homer immediately after the gaffe rendered it moot, Gonzalez committed a two-base error when he slightly overran Mike Trout’s line-drive single and startlingly allowed the ball to skip past him into the corner as La Stella scored.
Albert Pujols produced his own blooper for the Angels in the following inning, when he dropped a soft pop-up by Willians Astudillo to first base to put the leadoff man on in the fourth. Pujols even followed fundamentals by putting both hands in place for the catch, but the ball still bounced off the heel of his glove.
Twins: DH Nelson Cruz sat out with a sore left wrist, but an MRI test revealed no structural damage. He said he hopes to start swinging a bat on Tuesday or Wednesday, but he’s not expected to need a stint on the injured list. “I have to be a good kid. Just be patient,” Cruz said.