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Yankees Rivalry Roundup: Shohei spins a shutout, homers, dazzles

There were only three American League games yesterday, but let’s check in on them.

Los Angeles Angels v Detroit Tigers - Game One Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

There are quiet nights during the MLB season, and then there are quiet nights like July 27th. Just four games were scheduled and a fifth only happened because the Angels and Tigers were rained out on Wednesday. Of the league’s 30 teams, 22 were off.

Nonetheless, three of the five games still had at least some ripple effect on the American League playoff picture. We won’t go deep on them because there really wasn’t a lot to discuss, but we’ll do a quick rundown anyway!

Los Angeles Angels (53-49) 6, Detroit Tigers (46-56) 0 [Game 1]

I suppose the “there really wasn’t a lot to discuss” note more applies to the nature of what this website is about. There is plenty of digital ink to spill on everything amazing about Shohei Ohtani! You can find it pretty easily! It just doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to wax poetic about him on a Yankees site. The man is unbelievable and there’s no one like him.

Ohtani’s latest trick involved the first complete game of his MLB career. The Angels have treated him carefully since he came over from the NPB in 2018, but yesterday was the perfect storm for him to finally go the distance. Since it was a doubleheader, Halos manager Phil Nevin was inclined to let Ohtani eat to save the bullpen, and with a bad offense against him, the likely MVP sure did.

The Tigers’ only hit came on a clean single by Kerry Carpenter in the top of the fifth. There were also three walks mixed in here and there, but that was the extent of their offense. Ohtani needed just 80 pitches to blank them through seven, and he got Riley Greene to line out on the 111th offering to secure his first shutout since his Nippon-Ham Fighters days.

Ohtani took the collar at the plate but his teammates in the lineup made it a stress-free afternoon, too. Trey Cabbage put them in front with a sacrifice fly in the second and added a two-run single in the fourth off Michael Lorenzen to make it 3-0, Halos. Another two-run hit came in the sixth on a bomb by Taylor Ward. With Ohtani breezing, that was all she wrote.

Los Angeles Angels (54-49) 11, Detroit Tigers (46-57) 4 [Game 2]

A little over an hour after polishing off his shutout, Mr. Ohtani was at it again. Evidently, he was ashamed of his hitless opener, so he atoned in the second game with the 37th and 38th bombs of his incredible 2023 season:

The only reason that we know this man is human is that he departed with some cramping. It happens to all of us! Really!

Even before Ohtani went “clobberin’ time,” the Halos had a handle on it. Matt Manning was knocked around for seven runs on seven hits in five innings, as Luis Rengifo hit a two-run triple to start the scoring in the second. Five Angels had crossed home plate, and even though Patrick Sandoval wasn’t his best, the offense kept on coming in the doubleheader sweep.

Give credit where credit iss due: The Angels took advantage of their twin bill against a weak opponent with no one else playing. They’re just half a game behind the Yankees in the Wild Card hunt, and three behind Toronto. If they really want to dream big (and with Ohtani, why not?), they’re only four back of second-place Houston and six behind first-place Texas in the AL West. Larger deficits have been overtaken!

Cleveland Guardians (52-51) 6, Chicago White Sox (41-63) 3

I still refuse to write too many words about an AL Central-only matchup, but the Twins are keeping the Guardians in the race. Cleveland took two of three from the Royals earlier this week and got another bottom feeder on Thursday with the disappointing and now Giolito-less White Sox. Tanner Bibee gave up a pair of homers to Jake Burger, but with no other ChiSox batter capable of driving home a run, that was it for their offense.

Meanwhile, Dylan Cease took his lumps in the form of RBI doubles from Andrés Giménez and Josh Naylor as Cleveland grabbed the early lead and didn’t look back. The Burger dingers made it close at 4-3, but key hits from the Naylor brothers put this one away.

The Guardians are now 1.5 games behind the Twins.