The Angels spent almost nine innings playing from behind. Then a late comeback, capped by a walk-off, two-run home run from Taylor Ward in the 11th inning, got them a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in front of their home crowd.
“Unbelievable. Feels really good,” Ward said of his home run, which also scored Luis Rengifo, who started the 11th as the runner on second.
And Ward celebrated accordingly. Rengifo jogged toward him with the bucket of Gatorade as he did a postgame interview on the field, and Ward walked toward him, opening his arms for the blue drink to drench him.
Ward’s home run, which came off a 3-and-2, four-seam fastball from Twins reliever Emilio Pagan, traveled 404 feet into the center-field seats.
“I wasn’t sure what he was gonna try to throw there, but got a good pitch and didn’t miss it,” Ward said. “The entire at-bat, I was looking for that pitch.”
The comeback was started by Shohei Ohtani in the eighth, and the score was tied in the ninth behind the bats, good eyes and fast legs of Jo Adell, Max Stassi, Andrew Velazquez and Magneuris Sierra.
Ohtani, the reigning American League most valuable player, with two outs in the eighth and no one on, took Jhoan Duran’s 2-and-1 curveball just far enough over the wall that Twins center fielder Byron Buxton was unable to make the catch.
It fell so close to the wall that as Ohtani rounded the bases, he continued to stare back at Buxton — who lay on the warning track staring at his glove after failing to make the catch — to make sure the ball was not hidden in Buxton’s glove.
Ohtani did a little bunny hop onto home plate as fire ceremoniously shot out from the rocks in the outfield for home run No. 26.
The theatrics continued in the ninth with the Angels down to their last out. After Adell got a one-out single off Twins reliever Jorge Lopez, Stassi worked a two-out walk. Andrew Velazquez came in to pinch-run for Stassi. Then Sierra hit a triple into that tricky left-field corner. Left fielder Nick Gordon dove to make the catch but missed.
Adell and Velaquez sprinted home to tie the score. Sierra bounded down the third base line attempting to turn his triple into an inside-the-park home run, as Gordon launched the ball to catcher Gary Sánchez. Sierra slid hands-first to the plate, trying to avoid Sánchez’s tag by reaching around him with his right hand.
Sierra thought he was safe, slamming his helmet into the dirt when he was called out, emphatically calling for interim manager Phil Nevin to get a review of the play. Sierra still was ruled out, but the game went into the 10th inning tied 3-3.
“Well, I always dreamed my first home run would win a game,” Sierra said. “When I rounded second, I said ‘I’m gonna win it, I’m gonna make my dreams come true.’ But it didn’t happen.”
José Quijada pitched the 10th without allowing any runs. Ryan Tepera followed with a scoreless 11th.
The Angels had an opportunity to walk it off in the 10th, with Sierra and Ohtani at the corners. Rengifo lined out to center field, and Ohtani was already by second base before the ball was caught. He was doubled off at first to end the inning.
Angels starting pitcher Reid Detmers gave up a solo home run to his second batter of the game, Carlos Correa. The second mistake made with Detmers on the mound: After he walked Max Kepler and gave up a single to Sanchez, Correa hit a sacrifice fly to score Kepler, getting the Twins their second run of the game in the fifth inning.
Detmers was done after five innings, giving up two earned runs with five hits, three batters walked and nine struck out. He threw 96 pitches, 62 for strikes.
The Twins got their third run in the eighth on Gio Urshela’s groundout, which scored Jorge Polanco, who reached after hitting a single off reliever Aaron Loup.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.