May 23, 2024

Getting a chance to see Shohei Ohtani was the biggest reason to attend Saturday’s game between the Angels and the Oakland Athletics. The two-way star, who had not been around the team since undergoing a procedure on this right elbow last week, was back at Angel Stadium to accept the team’s 2023 MVP award in a pregame ceremony.

Ohtani stuck around for all nine innings of the Angels’ 7-3 loss to the Athletics amid fan chants of “sell the team” in what seemingly was a joint message directed at the respective owners of both clubs.

The 111-loss Athletics held the Angels hitless for 6⅓ innings in front of 31,633 at Angel Stadium. Joe Boyle, the Athletics’ 24-year-old starter, seemed to confound the Angels while also benefiting from some flashy Oakland defense. A’s second baseman Zack Gelof hit a solo home run off Angels opener Andrew Wantz in the first inning.

Rookie first baseman Nolan Schanuel led off the seventh with a walk, extending his on-base streak to 29 consecutive games, tied for third-longest to begin an MLB career. Brandon Drury then doubled to right to end Boyle’s no-hit bid.

Schanuel was driven in on a sacrifice fly by Mike Moustakas and the Angels took the lead on Logan O’Hoppe’s two-run home run, his ninth in September and 14th of the season.

O’Hoppe said he did not have time to really talk to Ohtani, though shared the little message Ohtani gave him toward the end of the game.

“He came up to me in the ninth and said get 15,” O’Hoppe said.

Ohtani did not talk to the media.

The A’s retook the lead in a five-run eighth inning against Angels relievers Ben Joyce and José Soriano.

Angels owner Arte Moreno, who took part in the on-field ceremony last year when Ohtani also won the team MVP award, was not part of the front-office contingent that congratulated him on the field this year. Closer Carlos Estévez was named the Nick Adenhart Pitcher of the Year. Both team awards were voted on by Angels players.

Ohtani had not been seen at Angel Stadium since the end of the team’s last homestand on Sept. 17. So when he ran out from the dugout for the ceremony, the home crowd screamed in delight.

“I’m not sure if everybody understood that he was going to be there,” manager Phil Nevin said. “But once the camera got on him in the dugout, you know, I’m on the field and you can feel it, just as you do each night when he takes the field.

“That’s just what he has around him. The aura, it brings a different energy to anywhere he’s at.”

The crowd sounded much different by the end of the eighth inning when “sell the team” chants shifted briefly to an “Arte sucks” chant. One fan in the field-level seats near the right field foul pole, turning to face the crowd, encouraged others to join the chant.

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