Angels power past Indians, but Mike Trout strains right calf

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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) celebrates with Taylor Ward (3) and Juan Lagares (19) after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians Monday, May 17, 2021, in Los Angeles. All three scored. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
Shohei Ohtani, right, receives congratulations from Angels teammates Taylor Ward, left, and Juan Lagares after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Cleveland Indians on Monday at Angel Stadium. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

There were conflicting emotions at Angel Stadium on Monday night.

After the first inning of the Angels’ series-opener against the Cleveland Indians, star center fielder Mike Trout was forced to exit the game with a right calf strain that he seemed to sustain while running the bases.

Minutes later, two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani took the major-league lead with his 13th home run of the season.

Ohtani’s blast, a three-run shot to right field in the second inning, instantly electrified the 9,527 partial-capacity crowd. It left the bat at 105.9 mph. It traveled a projected 431 feet. And perhaps most impressively, it came on a 1-and-2 fastball that was about six inches above the strike zone and more than four feet in the air. Ohtani’s arms were almost parallel to the ground as he made contact.

“Talk about elevated fastball,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said, laughing.

Echoed Angels starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval: “It’s unreal. I don’t know how else to say it. He hits the crap out of the ball and throws the crap out of the ball as well. I don’t think people can grasp how insane what he’s doing is. It’s unbelievable."

It was Ohtani’s third home run in the last four games and also raised his RBI total to 32, a team high and tied for fourth most in the majors. In only 38 games as a batter this season, Ohtani has already almost doubled his home run total from 2020, when he hit just seven in 44 games.

“I try to keep the same routine, do the exact same thing every day,” Ohtani, who also had two walks in the game, told Bally Sports West through his interpreter. “I think it’s leading to some consistency.”

While a two-run double by Juan Lagares earlier in the second inning had given the Angels a 3-1 lead, Ohtani’s homer put the game out of reach.

Sandoval gave up only two runs over four-plus innings in his first start of the season. Six relievers pieced together the final five frames, giving up only two runs without walking a batter. Closer Raisel Iglesias struck out the side in the ninth for his seventh save.

Anthony Rendon (three-for-four) and Jared Walsh (two-for-four) also tacked on RBIs.

“It was kind of an ownership night,” Maddon said. “Everybody had a piece of ownership. It was an intense game.”

Trout’s injury, however, left the Angels with cause for concern.

Angels' Mike Trout walks back to first base.
Angels' Mike Trout walks back to first base during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians on Monday at Angel Stadium. (Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

After drawing a walk in the bottom of the first and moving to second base on a wild pitch, Trout took off for third when Jared Walsh popped up with two outs. About halfway to the bag, Trout appeared to pull up and run gingerly the rest of the way, limping to a stop as the inning ended.

When he returned to the dugout, Trout was met by a trainer and proceeded back to the clubhouse. Postgame, Maddon said Trout was still undergoing evaluation and that it was too early to know the severity of the injury.

"It could be not so difficult or not so bad, and it may be worse,” Maddon said. “We're gonna find out tomorrow."

Maddon initially didn’t see what happened with Trout, only noticing something was amiss once the player started limping back toward the dugout.

Maddon believed Trout would probably have an MRI on Tuesday and that the team would know more then.

“I think it was hurting him pretty badly,” Maddon said. “Otherwise he would not have left the game.”

Despite a recent one-for-19 slump, Trout was still batting .333 on the season and entered Monday leading the majors in on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.086). He also has eight home runs and 18 RBIs.

In July 2019, Trout suffered the same injury to his right calf but missed only three games. Trout also missed three games earlier this season with an elbow bruise he sustained on a hit-by-pitch. Trout hasn’t been placed on the injured list since August 2018, when he had right wrist inflammation.

Trout did not speak to reporters after the game.

“We’re just gonna wait and go through the testing process and then make our conclusions,” Maddon said. “Speculation is never a good thing.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.