ANAHEIM, California. Los Angeles Angels manager Phil Nevin has made it clear that Friday night’s victory over the Houston Astros won’t solve all of his injury-riddled team’s problems.
“We’re not going to make up this big deficit that we’ve built up over the past two weeks,” Nevin said ahead of Friday’s game. “We’re not going to make up tonight. But we have to play better baseball to have a chance at these things.”
In front of a packed Angel Stadium, the Angels only fell further into their under-.500 hole despite Shohei Ohtani’s best efforts. The Astros defeated the Angels 7–5 in the first game of the weekend series. But the Angels’ abysmal record of 45-47 may not even be the biggest storyline that surrounds the team.
While the Angels have given no sign of any desire to trade Otani, that hasn’t stopped both players and fans from openly wooing Otani in Seattle for the All-Star Game. The MLB trade deadline, August 1, is just around the corner.
“Come to Se-at-tl!” chants were heard from Mariners fans during the ASG game when Ohtani was ready to fight. Mets pitcher and countryman Kodai Sengathrough a translator, joked about putting his Mets cap on Otani’s head.
“I’ve never come across anything like this, but I’ve definitely heard it,” Otani said of the screams in Seattle after the ASG game through Ippei Muzahara, his translator.
But Angels fans show Ohtani as much love as they can and for as long as they can. Otani still receives the loudest cheers of the entire roster of Angels. His jersey is the most popular in the stadium. Every time Otani was ready for battle, Angel Stadium chanted “Most Valuable Player”.
Angels fans come to see the Angels because they love the team and [Ohtani] wants to work for them the best he can, and as he said, there are things that he can control and that he cannot control, and whatever he can control, he wants to do his best for it,” said Muzahara, interpreting one of Otani’s answers to an All-Star Game question.
Otani pitched five innings and finished Friday night with a 3.50 ERA and seven strikeouts. He left the mound early in the sixth inning after the Astros left fielder Corey Julks. Otani, wearing a shin guard, remained in the game as the designated hitter. In five at-bats, Otani had two hits and one run.
Keeping Otani is not a complete solution to the Angels’ problems, but at least his presence is enough to keep fans where they are.