A’s Stephen Vogt hits homer in final game before retirement
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The ball sailed for the right-field seats, just as his long-awaited first career hit had done more than nine years before, and Stephen Vogt took off as if he could play for another decade.
He galloped in glee around the bases as his teammates and a crowd celebrating him at every chance went crazy.
“I was just like, ‘Let your 2-year-old boy just come out, let the little kid in you that used to play on his front yard and pretend to be Will Clark, let that come out,’ and I did and I just enjoyed every second of it,’” Vogt said.
The catcher homered in his final game before retirement and scored the first run on a sacrifice fly after Shohei Ohtani pitched no-hit ball into the fifth, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 on Wednesday.
Ohtani (15-9) finished with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings, and he hit .273 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs. He became the first player to qualify as a batter and a pitcher since rules for qualification were adopted in 1950.
Mike Trout hit his 40th home run with two outs in the eighth, a 452-foot drive above the first level of center-field luxury boxes. Trout reached 40 homers for the third time and first since hitting a career-best 45 in his 2019 AL MVP season.
Vogt’s seventh home run of the season and No. 82 of his career landed in nearly the same right-field spot as his first career hit, in his 33rd at-bat on June 28, 2013, off Cardinals reliever Joe Kelly. How fitting Vogt cleared the fences again in his final plate appearance at age 37 and with so many family and friends right there for a front-row seat. It ended an 0-for-14 funk.
Ohtani struck out six and didn’t allow a baserunner until Vogt’s six-pitch walk with one out in the fifth. Chad Pinder followed with a double and was lifted for a pinch-runner so he could walk off to a warm ovation in his likely final game with A’s before testing free agency. Conner Capel hit a sacrifice fly.
“I feel like I had a good season this year, probably better than last just looking at it overall,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “But normally, all of us there would like to be in the playoffs, and this is supposed to be the starting line. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this year, but hopefully it will be the case next year.”
Left fielder Jo Adell made a running catch on the warning track on a fly ball by Tony Kemp to start the fourth, the closest the A’s got to a hit before Pinder doubled.
Ohtani developed a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand but was able to finish the fifth.
“It’s been a heck of a year for him,” manager Phil Nevin said. “I know he’s disappointed about today.”
Vogt wrapped up his playing career with a pregame retirement ceremony as the A’s celebrated him all afternoon with highlights and video board messages from former teammates and managers like former Oakland skipper Bob Melvin.
“I Believe in Stephen Vogt!” chants greeted Vogt for his first plate appearance in the second from the crowd of 11,232. The two-time All-Star is beloved by the Bay Area fans as he also played in 2019 for the Giants.
Rookie Logan O’Hoppe hit an RBI single in the eighth to get the Angels on the board after replacing starter Max Stassi once Ohtani was done.
Los Angeles finished the year with a third straight loss following a season-best seven-game winning streak.
The A’s won their fourth straight — the previous two in 10 innings and walkoff fashion — to match a season high also done from July 25-29.
The Angels (73-89) won the season series between the non-playoff AL West teams 12-7 but lost all three here by one run.
Another retiring catcher, former A’s fan favorite Kurt Suzuki, came out to make a late pitching change in a thoughtful gesture by Nevin, who received a one-year contract earlier in the day to become Angels manager for 2023 after serving as interim since Joe Maddon’s June firing.
A’s starter Ken Waldichuk (2-2) struck out four and allowed three hits over seven scoreless innings in his seventh career start. Kirby Snead finished for his first career save.
The 28-year-old Ohtani’s first inning on the mound qualified him for the league leaders as a pitcher and hitter — the first player in the World Series era to do so.
He finished 1 for 4 with a strikeout at the plate. He hit 34 homers and drove in 95 runs. On the mound, he posted a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts over 28 starts and 166 innings.
The journeyman Vogt started behind the plate in his final game, finishing his 10-year major league career with an on-field ceremony. He waved to the crowd in every direction.
His three children announced him on the microphone as the upcoming batter and two of them also threw out the first pitch to their pop.
“That’s what it’s about. I’m so thankful that my kids are going to remember daddy playing,” he said, in tears. “They’re going to remember dad doing some pretty cool stuff.”
The only other players since 1974 with 50 or more career home runs to homer for their first and last career hits were Corey Hart, Russell Branyan, Brad Fullmer and Pat Sheridan, according to Sportradar.
Angels: 3B Anthony Rendon sat the season finale as a planned day off after playing the previous two games following his 90-game absence with a right wrist injury.
A’S AT HOME
Oakland (60-102) wound up 29-51 at home in manager Mark Kotsay’s first year and drew 787,902 fans — down from 1,662,211 in 2019, the last pre-COVID season.
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