Shohei Ohtani & Zack Cozart help Angels to important series win.
By David Rice
So far this season the Angels have been pleased with both Shohei Ohtani and Zack Cozart. Both players have made their impact felt in just one week. Wednesday afternoon was no exception.
When the Angels signed Shohei Ohtani and Zack Cozart in less than a week back in December it showed owner Arte Moreno’s commitment in helping the Angels get back to the playoffs. Cozart was coming off a career year for the Reds and Ohtani was considered the best thing since sliced bread and Nintendo to come out of Japan.
However, this Spring Cozart started out struggling at the plate going 4 for 20 (.200) in the first two weeks of Spring Training. Ohtani hit .111 in this Spring and had a 27.00 ERA on the mound. We all know that Spring Training numbers don’t equate to what kind of season you are going to have, but it is still not how Ohtani or Cozart wanted to make a first impression.
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Despite all the criticism the Angels got for putting Ohtani on the Opening Day roster, they trusted what they knew to be true regarding Ohtani’s abilities. They have been rewarded thus far this season as Ohtani has gotten off to a great start. Ohtani is hitting .429 with two homers and five RBIs and on the mound he got his first victory pitching six strong innings allowing only three runs and striking out six.
Cozart has proven himself to be pretty valuable as well playing second base and leading off to fill in for Ian Kinsler who has been on the disabled list due to a groin strain.
Both Ohtani and Cozart came up big on Wednesday afternoon in helping the Angels to a series-clinching victory over the Cleveland Indians. The Indians have been the Angels kryptonite the past couple of seasons winning 12 straight times until the Halos broke the streak by winning the last two games.
The Angels demolished the Indians Tuesday night hitting five home runs including Ohtani’s first major league HR to win 13-2. On Wednesday afternoon, Ohtani hit a two-run shot to left-center that tied the game at 2 in the fifth. Then in the bottom of the 13th inning Zack Cozart hit a walk-off homer over both bullpens to give the Angels the 3-2 victory in dramatic fashion which gave them the series over the Indians.
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Cozart had been in a mini-slump 1 for 13 in the three-game series against the Indians until the walk-off homer. These two players are part of a rebuilt Angel team that is hoping to compete in the tough American League West and make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2014.
The key to Angels success still will rest in large part on the success and health of the pitching staff. However, the increase in offensive production plus an even better defense in the field will also make a big difference this season.
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If the first week of the season which saw the Angels go 5-2 and have multiple comeback wins, we will be in for an exciting year. Let’s hope so.