Over the course of a 14-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Angels lost more than just games, but they still had Shohei Ohtani. That turned out to be the difference.
Behind the reigning MVP's home run and seven innings of one-run ball, the Angels snapped a 14-game losing streak that saw them fall from playoff contention to four games below .500. They beat the Boston Red Sox 5-2 on Thursday, their first win since May 24.
Ohtani went 2-for-4 at the plate with a two-run homer in the fifth inning and seven innings on the mound with four hits allowed, one earned run and six strikeouts.
Backup shortstop Andrew Velasquez, hitting ninth, chipped in a three-run homer an inning later to put the beleaguered team over the top. The two homers were more than the Angels had in their previous eight games combined.
The win is the first MLB victory of interim manager Phil Nevin's career.
The losing streak saw the Angels place breakout talent Taylor Ward and high-priced third baseman Anthony Rendon on the injured list, lose Mike Trout to a lingering groin injury and fire manager Joe Maddon after two and a half years with the team. It's even arguable the team lost its dignity when it resorted to walking up to nothing but Nickelback the previous night.
We'll see if the nightmare is really over, but the team already has set a franchise record for consecutive losses and is again in a familiar position of sitting in the middle of the AL West despite one of the strongest collections of elite talent in baseball.
Taking another step forward won't be any easier in the near future as the Angels now have back-to-back series against division leaders in the New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers lined up. They face the Mets at 6:38 p.m. PT on Friday.