Ohtani homers, but Meyers hits first 2 as Astros rip Angels
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Rookie outfielder Jake Meyers hit the first two home runs of his career, including a grand slam, and the Houston Astros shook off Shohei Ohtani’s major league-leading 39th homer Saturday night in an 8-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
Luis Garcia recovered from a wobbly start to pitch six strong innings for Houston. Meyers, playing in his seventh career game and making his second start, was in right field after Kyle Tucker was placed on the injured list for health and safety protocols.
The Astros’ offense did not skip a beat as Meyers matched Tucker’s grand slam in Friday’s 4-1 victory at Angel Stadium and added a solo shot for good measure.
“He’s a very stable young man and he’s not overwhelmed by this,” Houston manager Dusty Baker said. “In spring training, it looked like he might be trying a little too hard and we just have to make sure he stays within himself, gets good pitches to hit, take a good whack at it and don’t miss it.”
Yordan Alvarez had three hits and two RBIs as the Astros scored three or more runs in their 22nd consecutive game to set a club record. It is the longest three-run streak in the majors this season.
After Ohtani’s first-inning homer gave the Angels a 1-0 lead, David Fletcher singled, stole second base and scored on Jared Walsh’s single as Los Angeles led 2-0 after its first three batters.
“He’s getting his stroke back,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Ohtani, who hit just his second home run in 14 games this month. “He just looks right. The ball is going to left field again on a line, he’s covering the whole plate and the direction in his swing looks better.”
Garcia (9-6) settled down from there to boost his AL Rookie of the Year credentials, giving up two runs on six hits with three walks and five strikeouts. It was the third time in his last five starts he permitted two runs or less.
“He started off a little shaky and his pitch count got up to where we considered taking him out, but that’s his game,” Baker said. “That’s how you kind of build a pitcher. You have to stick with him, especially with the offense we have.”
The Astros pushed in front with three runs in the third inning. Meyers hit his one-out homer on a line to right-center field. Jose Altuve doubled and Michael Brantley singled to put two aboard before Altuve scored on Carlos Correa’s sacrifice fly to tie it 2-all.
Alvarez followed with an RBI double to give Houston a lead it did not relinquish.
Alvarez made it 4-2 in the fifth inning with an RBI double down the right-field line to score Brantley from first base.
Meyers’ grand slam came on an 0-1 fastball from Junior Guerra and reached the elevated seats in right field to put Houston up 8-2. The last Astros player to hit his first two career home runs in the same game was Lance Berkman in 1999.
“I was kind of just looking for a fastball or anything up in the zone to really get in a run. No outs, bases loaded, a guy in scoring position,” Meyers said. “I just tried to do a job and help the team out and I hit it really well.”
The victory was the Astros’ fourth in a row, their longest winning streak of the second half, in a run that has come after they lost six of eight.
After six games of a seven-game homestand against two of the best offenses in baseball, the Angels are 2-4 against the Toronto Blue Jays and Astros, while being outscored 32-17.
“That’s a balloon deflator if there ever has been one,” Maddon said about giving up grand slams in back-to-back games. “We started well (Saturday), we were fighting to stay in it and all of a sudden, boom, there it goes. Those are tough to absorb.”
Ohtani’s home run matched the Angels’ record for most by a left-handed hitter in one season. He tied Reggie Jackson, who hit 39 for the Angels in 1982, his first season with the club.
Astros: Tucker was placed on the IL for health and safety protocols for the second time this season, while first baseman Yuli Gurriel (neck stiffness) was reinstated from the injured list. Tucker also was on the same list in June.
Angels: RHP Chris Rodriguez, optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake on Wednesday after pitching in Tuesday’s doubleheader against Toronto, is on the seven-day minor league injured list with a right lat strain, leaving him out of the club’s pitching plans at least at the start of a five-city road trip next week.
The Astros will send RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (9-3, 3.22 ERA) to the mound in the finale of a three-game series Sunday afternoon, while the Angels counter with left-hander Reid Detmers (0-2, 10.61), who will be making his third major league start.
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