ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Even with constant questions about his future, Shohei Ohtani continues to produce at an amazing clip for the Los Angeles Angels.
The two-way star tied the score in the seventh inning with his major league-leading 35th home run. That set the stage for pinch-hitter Michael Stefanic’s game-ending single in the 10th that gave the Angels a 4-3 win over the New York Yankees on Monday night.
Los Angeles trailed 3-1 when Ohtani hit a two-run drive off Michael King, then made a demonstrative flip of his bat. Ohtani has homered in three straight games for the sixth time in six big league seasons and surpassed his home run total from last year.
Manager Phil Nevin said the bat flip was the most emotion he has seen from Ohtani, who has homered 19 times in his last 31 games..
“We know what it does for the whole place, but you guys have to understand what it does for our dugout too. It’s massive,” Nevin said. “Then to come out on top, I’m glad it wasn’t wasted.”
Ohtani is in the last year of his contract. Where he will play next season has been a source of speculation all season, but trade rumors have increased as the Aug. 1 deadline approaches and the Halos struggle to stay in contention.
Los Angeles (47-48) was in position for a wild-card berth but is 6-15 since June 20. The Angels are 5 1/2 games behind Houston for the final spot.
The off-field pressures haven’t affected Ohtani’s performance at the plate. He had three hits and increased his average to .306.
“He wants to win in the worst way. It’s just been frustrating for him the last two weeks as it is for everybody,” Nevin said. “He wants to win and he wants to win here.”
The Yankees (50-45) have dropped seven of nine and are 15-20 since Aaron Judge got hurt on June 3. They are in sole possession of last place in the AL East this late in a season for the first time since 1990.
“I thought we did a lot of good things tonight but certain situations you have to make better adjustments,” manager Aaron Boone said after the Yankees struck out a season-high 17 times and were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
With Chad Wallace on second as the automatic runner in the 10th, Stefanic lined a changeup from Nick Ramirez (0-2) into left field to give the Angels their fourth walk-off win.
The fact it was against the Yankees was extra special for Stefanic, who said he grew up as a Red Sox fan.
“A little bit sweet to do that,” he said. “I’m a line drive hitter and I wanted to elevate and get something over the infield. I got a changeup and executed it.”
Aaron Loup (1-2) struck out two in a hitless 10th.
Matt Thaiss hit a solo shot in the sixth for the Angels to bring them within 2-1. He then was ejected by plate umpire John Tumpane after taking a called third strike to end the ninth.
Oswaldo Cabrera put the Yankees ahead 2-0 with a two-run, ground-rule double off Jimmy Herget that bounced on the warning track and over the wall in left-center.