An electric crowd hoping to see Miguel Cabrera catch history instead caught sight of another all-world, generational talent, as two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Detroit Tigers, 3-1.
Detroit sent out lefty Tarik Skubal, who met the pitching matchup head on and rose to the occasion, changing the eye level on a high slider to strikeout Shohei Ohtani for the first out. But Skubal couldn’t keep the Angels off the board. With two outs, Phil Gosselin poked a grounder through the right side, then Justin Upton found a fastball in his happy zone and sent it into the visitor’s bullpen. 2-0, Angels.
Meanwhile, Ohtani was shaky on the mound early. After a Robbie Grossman strikeout, both Jonathan Schoop and Miguel Cabrera pushed sharp grounders past the infield, putting two on for Jeimer Candelario with one out. Candelario’s fly ball to right looked like it had a chance to fall, but Angels right fielder Jo Adell tracked it down and threw quickly to second to catch a flat-footed Schoop for an inning-ending outfield double play. Ohtani settled in after that, a fifth-inning solo home run to Willi Castro the only blemish on an otherwise clean box score.
Tarik Skubal was cruising along in his own right, and trotted out for the seventh inning having seen little trouble. But after striking out Jose Iglesias, hopes of finishing the inning were dashed. Jo Adell beat out a bang-bang play at first, then Brandon Marsh lining a fastball just past the reach of Jonathan Schoop at second to put runners on with one out. With his pitch count climbing past 90, manager A.J. Hinch left Skubal in to face Max Stassi, and was rewarded with a groundball out to short. Skubal gave way to reliever Jose Cisnero, who fanned Jack Mayfield for the final out. Skubal left the game having given up only the two early runs with seven strikeouts, and got a nice round of applause coming off the field.
With Skubal out, it was time to start the Sho. Jose Cisnero came back out for the top of the eighth, and hung a slider through the heart of the plate that a very careful Ohtani did not miss. One sweet swing sent a solo jack flying, never to be seen again.
SHOHEI OHTANI IS THE FIRST PLAYER IN MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL TO 40 HOME RUNS!!! THE GREATEST SEASON WE HAVE EVER SEEN— Ben Verlander (@BenVerlander) August 19, 2021
Back to work in the bottom of the eighth, Ohtani mowed through Grayson Greiner, Victor Reyes, and Robbie Grossman, fastball touching 98. He had only thrown 90 pitches.
With one more chance on the night at history, Miguel Cabrera faced Angels reliever Raisel Iglesias and barreled a slider to right on the first pitch. The crowd erupted, Jo Adell retreating deeper into the warning track, but the bid fell just short. The quest for 500 would have to continue another night. Iglesias then quickly struck out Jeimer Candelario to clinch the win for Los Angeles, 3-1.