Angels’ Shohei Ohtani says he still focusing a game at a time

Shohei Ohtani hit a home run in the first inning on Thursday and gave the Angels an early lead against the Oakland Athletics. He hit another solo homer in the seventh inning.

The Angels hit seven solo homers — and still lost 8-7. It was another defeat in a lost season.

“It’s hard to stay motivated that way,” Ohtani said in Japanese when asked if it’s difficult to stay motivated because the Angels aren’t playoff contenders.

That comment came on Wednesday as Ohtani played well but suffered defeat in a 3-1 loss to the A’s. He also spoke of a change in mentality.

“Individually there are many things I have to do,” he said. “But my life in baseball will continue for some time, and by all means I want to focus on every single game.”

The Angels have lost many games where Ohtani has contributed more than his fair share, either on the mound or on the plate.

On Wednesday, he pitched 5 2/3 innings and knocked out seven. He gave up just two earned runs. The Angels lost to the Texas Rangers on July 28, a start that saw Ohtani penalize 11 and give up two earned runs in six innings.

They lost to the Kansas City Royals on June 21 despite Ohtani’s eight RBIs.

The list goes on.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani sits in a box next to interim manager Phil Nevin.

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (left) sits on a box next to interim manager Phil Nevin during Thursday’s fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium.

(Jae C Hong / Associated Press)

The Angels (44-61) are 24 games away from first place in the American League West and 12 games from third AL wildcard spot. At Tuesday’s close, they covered starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, closer Raisel Iglesias and outfielder Brandon Marsh.

The three went to legitimate playoff contenders. “I applaud the players who left from the bottom of my heart,” Ohtani said. “I want them to be part of good teams, get results and do their best in the postseason.”

The Angels got some pitching depth, a top catching perspective and a promising young outfielder in return.

Asked about the psychological impact of the Angels rebuilding for next season as of the deadline, Ohtani said: “Things are different than they were at the beginning of the season when we won. That’s why we became sellers. Of course, as a team, you can’t continue playing with the high morale you had when you were aiming for the postseason.

“We’re not in a place where it’s good to just think when you’re doing what you can do in that one shot or one inning or get a result against that one hitter and stack that up and just that win game . As a player, it’s quite difficult to know that the odds are slim that a win will help get you into the postseason. But I think I’d like to do what I have to do as best I can.” Angels’ Shohei Ohtani says he still focusing a game at a time

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