Taylor Ward hits grand slam, falls single shy of cycle

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ANAHEIM — It is arduous to discover a hotter hitter in baseball than Angels proper fielder Taylor Ward proper now.

Ward has been off to a blistering begin offensively this season and almost hit for the cycle in a 9-5 win over the Guardians on Wednesday, falling only a single in need of the accomplishment. However he greater than made up for it, as he went 3-for-4 with a double within the first, a grand slam within the second, a stroll within the fourth and a triple within the sixth to again Shohei Ohtani, who pitched 5 innings and allowed two runs to select up his second win.

Extremely, Ward turned simply the second participant within the Trendy Period with a double, a triple, a grand slam and 4 runs in a recreation, becoming a member of Roger Maris in 1958, in accordance with Stats Inc. Ward, 28, is batting an astounding .395/.531/.816 with 4 homers, two doubles and 9 RBIs by his first 11 video games this season after lacking eight video games with a strained left groin.

“Watching him from the on-deck circle, I simply get the vibe he will get a success each time,” Ohtani mentioned by interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I am positive the opposing pitchers are feeling the identical factor.”

The previous first-round decide in 2015 has been one of many largest surprises in baseball and has strengthened the Angels’ star-studded lineup that additionally consists of Mike Trout, Ohtani, Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh. Ward’s beginning job didn’t turn into safe till veteran Justin Upton was designated for task late in Spring Coaching, however now Ward’s been a significant a part of an Angels offense that leads the Majors with 95 runs scored and is second with 25 homers.

“It is enjoyable to be part of,” Trout mentioned. “He is available in and works arduous and retains his routine and trusts it. And it is paying off within the discipline proper now. I believe his mindset has actually helped him.”

Ward got here as much as the plate within the seventh with an opportunity to turn into simply the tenth participant in AL/NL historical past to hit for a cycle with a grand slam. However he flied out to proper on a first-pitch slider from lefty Logan Allen and didn’t get one other likelihood to hit within the eighth.

“I used to be simply fascinated by it an excessive amount of,” Ward mentioned. “I acquired out of my plan and sort of popped it. I want I might’ve taken that pitch and battled with him somewhat extra.”

Ward was moved as much as the leadoff spot within the lineup on Monday due to his scorching begin, because the Angels moved down Ohtani to the No. 2 spot within the order. Ward responded by homering twice on Monday and likewise went 1-for-4 with a run scored on Tuesday.

He sparked a two-run rally within the first with a leadoff double off Guardians right-hander Zach Plesac after Ohtani allowed a two-run homer to José Ramírez within the prime half. Ward got here as much as the plate once more within the second with the bases loaded and delivered his second profession grand slam to place the Angels up by 4 runs.

“Ward is actually setting the tone proper now, my gosh,” Angels supervisor Joe Maddon mentioned. “The grand slam actually put us on the fitting facet of issues.”

Ward confirmed his persistence within the fourth, drawing his eleventh stroll in 11 video games. The Angels ultimately loaded the bases that inning, scoring a run on an RBI single from Walsh that noticed Ohtani get caught in a rundown between third and residential.

The opportunity of a cycle turned way more life like with Ward’s triple within the sixth off Allen. Ward drove an 0-1 cutter to deep heart and Myles Straw couldn’t deal with it, permitting Ward to succeed in third for his third profession triple.

“As soon as I spotted it wasn’t out of the ballpark, I turned it on,” Ward mentioned. “I ought to in all probability have busted out of there somewhat bit. As soon as I noticed it kick, I turned it on, however I wasn’t fascinated by the cycle at that time.”

And whereas Ward lamented not getting a single in his ultimate at-bat, he mentioned he’ll study from his expertise and never put extra stress on himself in future conditions. He’s credited a change in his psychological method for his current success, as he confirmed flashes of it final 12 months, when he hit .250/.332/.435 with eight homers and 33 RBIs in 65 video games, however now he’s beginning to put all of it collectively. 

“Truthfully, it is one thing I really feel like ought to’ve already been taking place, however I am right here now,” Ward mentioned. “And I am blessed to be right here and simply wish to maintain the blinders on and keep targeted on this season.”

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