Shohei Ohtani hits 1st grand slam among his 2 HRs in Angels’ rout of Rays

The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, right, celebrates with teammate Brandon Marsh after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Angels starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws to the plate during the first inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays’ Yandy Diaz singles during the first inning of their game against the Angels on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs throws to the plate during the first inning of their game against the Angels on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani flies out to right field during the first inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Tampa Bay Rays’ Manuel Margot steals second base while Angels shortstop Andrew Velazquez waits for a throw during the second inning on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Tampa Bay Rays’ Manuel Margot steals second base ahead of a throw to Angels shortstop Andrew Velazquez during the sixth inning on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Tampa Bay Rays’ Randy Arozarena hits a home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Angels on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Randy Arozarena hits a home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Angels on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Randy Arozarena, right, celebrates with Brett Phillips after hitting a home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Angels on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Randy Arozarena, right, celebrates in the dugout after hitting a home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Angels on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani prepares to hit a single during the fourth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Angels’ Jared Walsh hits a three-run home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Jared Walsh watches the flight of his three-run home run Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs throws to the plate during the fourth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Angels’ Jared Walsh (20) runs the bases after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Jared Walsh celebrates with Mike Trout, left, after hitting a three-run home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Jared Walsh, right, celebrates with Shohei Ohtani during the fourth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jalen Beeks throws to the plate during the fifth inning of their game against the Angels on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Angels’ Mike Trout hits a two-run home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Mike Trout (27) runs the bases after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Mike Trout points as he crosses home plate after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Mike Trout, right, celebrates with designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, and Brandon Marsh after hitting a two-run home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits a home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani watches the flight of his solo home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates as he crosses home plate after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates in front of teammate Anthony Rendon, right, as he returns to the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is presented with the ceremonial cowboy hat by teammate Mike Trout after he hit a solo home run during the sixth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani reacts as he runs the bases after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, right, celebrates with third base coach Phil Nevin as he runs the bases after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani runs the bases after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, right, celebrates with Brandon Marsh (16), Mike Trout, left, and Andrew Velazquez after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, center, celebrates with Brandon Marsh (16), Mike Trout, left, and Andrew Velazquez after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) celebrates with Anthony Rendon (6), Jared Walsh (20), and Brandon Marsh (16) after hitting a grand slam during the seventh inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. It was his second home run of the 11-3 victory. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels relief pitcher Kyle Barraclough throws to the plate during the ninth inning of their game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels first baseman Jared Walsh, left, hugs third baseman Anthony Rendon after their 11-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, high-fives shortstop Andrew Velazquez after their 11-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, center, high-fives Manager Joe Maddon after their 11-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night at Angel Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani had been gradually warming up for more than a week, and he officially exploded on Monday night.

Ohtani hit a pair of home runs, including his first grand slam on either side of the globe, in the Angels’ 11-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Angels also got homers from Mike Trout and Jared Walsh. It was Trout’s 161st homer at Angel Stadium, breaking Tim Salmon’s franchise record.

“It’s special,” Trout said. “I didn’t know about it till it popped up on the scoreboard. Anytime you pass Tim Salmon, with the history here, that’s good.”

Ohtani is now approaching his own milestone, with 99 homers in the majors. He had been making slow progress toward the century mark this season, well behind the homer pace he set in hitting 46 last season. Ohtani hit just four homers in the Angels’ first 30 games.

During his early struggles, he was hitting too many ground balls directly into the shift on the right side. When he’s at his best, he’s getting the ball in the air and hitting it from gap to gap.

“He looked better when he’s been going to left-center,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “He was just getting a little underneath everything, and now the angle’s gotten better off the bat. Wow, if we could keep him right there for the next several months …”

Since he hit a homer to left center field on April 29 in Chicago, Ohtani has clearly had more of a focus toward hitting the ball to center and left. He knocked balls off the wall in center and left last week at Fenway Park, and his game-tying double in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday was off the fence in center.

This time, he simply hit balls over the fence.

In the sixth inning, just after Trout had pulled a two-run homer down the left-field line to pad the Angels’ lead to 5-1, Ohtani drilled the first pitch over the fence in center.

An inning later, the Angels had loaded the bases and scored a run – on a bases-loaded walk to Trout – to bring Ohtani to the plate.

Right-hander Calvin Faucher, a UC Irvine product making his major league debut, fell behind 3-and-1 and then threw an 88 mph cutter over the inner half of the plate. Ohtani blasted it 413 feet to left-center, turning the game into a rout.

Ohtani didn’t even realize that it was his first grand slam.

“In my head, I thought I hit one in Japan, but I guess not,” Ohtani said through his interpreter.

Ohtani’s homer put the finishing touch on an offensive outburst that started slowly.

The Angels didn’t even have a baserunner until Trout’s single in the fourth inning. Ohtani then hit a routine fly ball that center fielder Kevin Kiermaier seemed to lose in the early evening twilight. The ball dropped for a single.

That extended the inning so Walsh could get to the plate with two outs, and he delivered a three-run homer into the trees beyond the center field fence.

It was the first homer of the season against a lefty for Walsh, who has gradually improved his performance against lefties. Walsh, who hit .170 against lefties last season, is now up to .308 in the small sample of 26 at-bats this year.

That gave Noah Syndergaard a 3-1 lead on a night when he slogged through without his best stuff.

Syndergaard came up with big pitches just when he needed them to continually escape trouble.

He allowed at least one baserunner in each of the six innings he started. In the second inning, he gave up a leadoff single to Manuel Margot, then he walked Kiermaier. After a double steal, the Rays had runners at second and third with no outs.

Syndergaard struck out Randy Arozarena and Brett Phillips and then got Mike Zunino on a sharp grounder.

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Syndergaard lasted 5-1/3 innings on 97 pitches, allowing only a solo homer by Arozarena in the fourth.

“I think those are the most fun outings because you’ve really got to go through and battle and fight,” Syndergaard said. “You certainly don’t want it to be easy. If it was easy, it wouldn’t be as rewarding.”

Right-hander Ryan Tepera picked up the final two outs of the sixth, holding the two-run lead. By the time Tepera took the mound in the seventh, the Angels had padded the lead to five runs, and Ohtani’s grand slam then allowed Jimmy Herget to take an eight-run lead into the eighth.

Kyle Barraclough finished it off, pushing the Angels to their 20th victory in their first 31 games, which has been a welcome change for a team that has struggled to meet expectations for most of the past few years.

“I’m definitely having the most fun right now,” Ohtani said. “I’m not having the best offensive year right now, but our team is winning. That’s the most important thing.”

Shohei's first GRAND SLAM of his professional career! pic.twitter.com/OPl5SHgB54

— MLB (@MLB) May 10, 2022

[email protected] has the most homers in the history of Angel Stadium! pic.twitter.com/XfqGLqjuWR

Jared Walsh to dead center! pic.twitter.com/fmBPQH5owZ

Maddon pleased with the the offense and the pitching post game #AngelsLive | @Angels pic.twitter.com/EKJs6INK0v

— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) May 10, 2022

“Get used to it, gonna be fun all summer watching that” -Walsh on Trout and Ohtani going back to back

We couldn't agree with you more Walshy. @Angels | #AngelsLive pic.twitter.com/P9bFQT1a3K

 

Shohei goes back-to-back with @MikeTrout! pic.twitter.com/4MMUjspAk0