Shohei Ohtani, Alex Cobb catapult Angels to win over Royals

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits a two-run double during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Monday, April 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits a two-run double during the seventh inning against the Kansas City Royals on Monday in Kansas City. (Orlin Wagner / Associated Press)

The ball was crushed, cracked, clobbered through the sky.

Had he hit it higher, who knows how far it would have flown into the night.

The Angels got plenty of help in a 10-3 win over the Kansas City Royals on Monday, benefiting from several Royals blunders to score their first four runs and riding an electric 10-strikeout start from right-hander Alex Cobb to their seventh win in their first 10 games.

But it wasn’t until Shohei Ohtani unloaded on an elevated fastball in the seventh inning, breaking open what was a one-run game with a two-run double, that the Angels finally began to pull away.

On the third pitch of his two-out at-bat, Ohtani took the kind of powerful cut that is quickly coming to define his early-season tear. He planted his right heel in the dirt. He swung his hips almost 180 degrees. And he leaned all the way into a pitch over the inner half of the plate.

The line drive left his barrel like a rocket, recording a 119-mph exit velocity that marked the best of his career and the hardest by any MLB player since last July.

Three at-bats later, Ohtani raced home on a wild pitch to stretch the Angels’ lead to four. Then in the ninth, he hit another RBI double before scoring again on Mike Trout’s two-run home run down the left-field line.

“He is absolutely engaged,” manager Joe Maddon said of Ohtani. “He’s feeling pretty good about himself.”

Here are other observations from Monday night.

Cobb dominates

For only the eighth time in his career, Cobb recorded double-digit strikeouts in his winning effort.

Most of them came courtesy of a hard-biting splitter, which Cobb threw 52 times to induce 16 swing-and-misses.

“It’s really a fun pitch to have when it’s working,” Cobb said.

The right-hander mowed through the Royals lineup over the first five innings, surrendering only two hits to his first 18 batters and retiring the side in order three times.

The Royals finally made Cobb work in the sixth, stringing together a double, walk and RBI single with one out to get on the board.

Cobb got the second out of the inning, but was then replaced by Maddon after having already thrown 32 pitches in the frame. Reliever Steve Cishek entered the game and surrendered a two-run single in his first at-bat — runs that were charged to Cobb — but then retired the side with the lead intact.

In his first two starts with the Angels, Cobb has 17 strikeouts in just 112/3 innings.

Injury updates

Before Monday’s game, Ohtani threw a light 10-pitch bullpen session as he continues to nurse a blister that has delayed his second pitching start of the season … Outfielder Juan Lagares was a late scratch with left calf tightness and is day to day ... Catcher Max Stassi exited the game in the middle of the sixth inning with left thumb irritation, but said a postgame X-ray was negative … The Angels also made another roster move, optioning reliever Jaime Barria and replacing him in the bullpen with side-arm right-hander Ben Rowen.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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