ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — It’s easy to get overshadowed in a lineup that includes Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, but Taylor Ward is beginning to garner some attention as well.
Ward hit a grand slam and finished a single shy of the cycle as the Los Angeles Angels rolled to a 9-5 victory over the Cleveland Guardians for their fourth consecutive victory Wednesday.
On a night when Ohtani showed off his two-way prowess and Trout added a pair of RBI doubles in extending his hitting streak to 10 games, Ward’s pursuit of the Angels’ first cycle since 2019 was the only thing in doubt in the late innings.
With a chance to accomplish the feat in the seventh, Ward swung at the first pitch and flied out to end the inning.
“I was thinking about it too much and got out of my plan,” said Ward, who scored four times. “I wish I would have taken that pitch and battled with him a little more.”
Ward’s slam off Zach Plesac (1-2) in the second inning was the third of his career and gave the Angels a 6-2 lead. The right fielder also had a leadoff double in the first and a triple in the sixth.
Ward missed the first eight games of the season due to a right groin strain, but is batting .395 since returning to the lineup. He has three home runs in the series, including the first multi-homer game of his career on Monday.
“Ward is setting the tone right now. The grand slam put us on the right side of things,” Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon said.
The Angels have won four of six during their homestand and will look for their first four-game sweep over Cleveland at The Big A since 1982 on Thursday afternoon.
The Guardians dropped their sixth straight despite José Ramírez’s two home runs. The All-Star third baseman had two-run shots in the first and eighth innings.
“I thought we drove his pitch count up decently. But when he needed it, he got it back. It’s not the best guy to get down early like that,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of Ohtani.
Ohtani (2-2) won his second straight start, going five innings and allowing two runs on five hits with four strikeouts. The reigning AL MVP — who came into the game batting .213 on the season and 3 for 20 during the homestand — also had his first three-hit game of the season and drove in a run.
“Fortunately, everyone around me is hitting the ball really well, so it is good to jump in there and contribute to the victory,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Ohtani had a perfect game through 5 1/3 innings in his previous outing last Thursday at Houston, but this start was more of a struggle. Myles Straw drew a walk to lead off the game before Ramírez connected on a slider with one out and put it over the wall in center field to make it 2-0. It was the second home run allowed by Ohtani this season.
The two-way sensation from Japan allowed four hits and was at 44 pitches after two innings before settling down and retiring the last eight batters he faced.
“Shohei did not have his best stuff early. He was relying too much on off-speed stuff,” Maddon said. “He got more aggressive on his fastball and the other pitches played better.”
Trout brought the Angels within 2-1 in the first with a double off the left-field wall. He was a couple feet shy of a home run in the sixth when his line drive hit the wall in the left-field corner for another extra-base hit.
The three-time AL MVP is 16 for 37 (.432) during his hitting streak.
Plesac came in 7-0 for his career against the AL West, including a shutout over the Angels in 2019, but struggled against a hot lineup. The right-hander allowed seven runs (six earned) and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings.
“I didn’t think he had his best slider. There were a number of balls, too, hit pretty hard,” Francona said. “He’s just not locating well yet like he will.”
Guardians: OF Steven Kwan (hamstring) was out of the lineup for the third straight game.
Angels: 2B David Fletcher was in the clubhouse to undergo testing on his left hip after a four-game rehab stint with Triple-A Salt Lake.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (1-0, 3.94 ERA) makes his second career start against the Angels. He allowed only two hits and struck out nine in a 3-0 victory last August.
Angels: LHP Reid Detmers (0-1, 6.57) lost his most recent start against the Orioles last Friday. He is 0-1 in his career against Cleveland.
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