Angels will look to Shohei Ohtani to help them bounce back from 7-3 loss to Athletics
The health of the Angels’ season seems to hinge largely on the health of their starting rotation.
That group took another hit Saturday when JC Ramirez was removed after two innings because of tightness in his right forearm.
The team already is without Matt Shoemaker, whose strained forearm is scheduled for more tests Monday.
Andrew Heaney also is on the disabled list with left elbow inflammation. He made a rehab start Friday and could join the rotation soon.
Ramirez first felt the tightness while warming up before the Angels lost to Oakland 7-3.
“I thought it was like when the game started it would disappear,” he said. “That never happened.”
Ramirez suffered a partial tear in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right elbow last season. He had the injury treated with a stem-cell injection and pitched through spring training and his first regular-season start without incident.
But Saturday, struggling with his control and with his velocity down, Ramirez walked five and gave up three runs before being pulled.
“It’s in my mind a little bit right now,” he said when asked about his level of concern. “The good news is I didn’t feel the same thing that I felt last year.”
Ramirez will be reevaluated Sunday. Manager Mike Scioscia refused to speculate on the severity of the condition.
Before the game began, the Angels certainly didn’t think they’d be getting more outs from Akeel Morris and Luke Bard than from Ramirez.
But that’s what happened, the injury making this a second straight game that taxed the team’s bullpen.
Ramirez was replaced by Morris, who just joined the Angels on Saturday and was still introducing himself to his new teammates during pregame stretching.
The right-hander pitched 2 1/3 innings, a span that ended with a Jed Lowrie solo homer, the only hit Morris permitted.
That effort got the Angels into the fifth, not a minor contribution for a team that he past two days has seen its starting pitchers combine to secure just 11 outs.
Following Morris, Bard pitched 2 1/3 innings as well, surrendering nothing more than one walk, the Angels bullpen again giving the offense a chance.
Down 3-0 early, the team’s hitters couldn’t have been discouraged, not after coming back to beat the A’s on Friday after falling behind 6-0.
Justin Upton, who hit the winning home run in the series opener, ripped a two-run shot in the fourth to make it 3-2.
This time, though, the Angels failed to make it all the way back on the A’s, who pulled away in the eighth with two runs off Blake Parker, the rally aided when Upton lost a Matt Chapman triple in the lights.
So, now the Angels turn to Shohei Ohtani, and why not, given his recent success? Ohtani commands his fastball and the spotlight better than he does his second language at the moment.
But he certainly understands the concept of being locked in, what Americans like to call being in the zone.
“I’m having some good games,” the Angels rookie said through an interpreter. “So I’m hoping that I can continue that with my role as a starting pitcher.”
After homering in three consecutive games as the designated hitter, Ohtani didn’t play Saturday in order to prepare for his return to the mound Sunday.
In his big league pitching debut last weekend, he limited the A’s to three runs and three hits in six innings, getting the victory in a 7-4 Angels win.
“You have more understanding,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of this second meeting. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to have more success.”
No, it doesn’t, solving Shohei Ohtani of late very much a mystery.
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