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Shohei Ohtani homers again and Noah Syndergaard is sharp in Angels’ win

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates after scoring a run in the third inning against the Texas Rangers.
Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates after scoring a run in the third inning against the Texas Rangers on Saturday.
(Richard W. Rodriguez / Associated Press)
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Shohei Ohtani hit his third home run in two games, Noah Syndergaard won a matchup of local pitchers and the Angels defeated the Texas Rangers 7-2 on Saturday night.

The game featured two starters from opposite sides of the Dallas-Fort Worth area in Syndergaard and Rangers lefty Taylor Hearn. It also became the latest showcase for Ohtani, the two-way superstar who won the American League MVP award last year.

Syndergaard (2-0) yielded two runs and five hits over six innings. Hearn gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings.

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Both threw 82 pitches, but Syndergaard was more economical. He needed just five pitches to get through the first inning and did not walk anybody. The right-hander retired his last 10 batters after giving up two runs in the third.

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“I loved the efficiency,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “With all of his pitches, he was getting ahead of hitters. He could have gone seven innings for sure.”

Syndergaard agreed, but he was content with six.

“I still felt pretty strong. My body feels real good, but I’m two years off from surgery,” he said. “[Catcher Max] Stassi and I had a real good vibe going on.“

Ohtani finished two for five with a two-run homer into the Rangers’ bullpen in right-center. He scored three runs and drove in three more.

“I wasn’t sure if it was going to clear the wall but I am glad it did,” Ohtani told members of the Japanese media.

The eighth-inning homer increased the Angels’ lead from 4-2 to 6-2.

“His home run was a big at-bat at the time, getting the extra runs,” Maddon said.

The Angels peppered Hearn (0-1) in the third inning. Four batters singled and sent teammates to third base, beginning with Tyler Wade’s infield hit and a throwing error by second baseman Marcus Semien that sent Andrew Velazquez to third.

Stassi’s single scored Mike Trout and sent Taylor Ward to third. Ohtani and Anthony Rendon each had an RBI in the inning.

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Ward, coming off the injured list for his first game this season, went two for three with a solo home run in the ninth. He also walked twice and stole a base.

Texas scored against Syndergaard on Semien’s run-scoring double and a groundout by Corey Seager. Syndergaard then struck out Adolis Garcia, gave up an infield hit and ended the inning with a groundout by Willie Calhoun.

“I struggled in the third,” Syndergaard said, “but I was able to get out without more damage.”

He pitched just two innings over the past two seasons following Tommy John surgery in March 2020.

“I don’t have triple-digit stuff yet,“ Syndergaard said. “It’s my first year back. I want to focus on pitching and not so much on throwing hard. I do want to get that hundo [100 mph] going again.”

The Rangers’ beleaguered bullpen gave up four runs in the last three innings.

Texas two-step

Angels starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard delivers in the first inning Saturday.
(Richard W. Rodriguez / Associated Press)
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Syndergaard said of Hearn: “I know he’s local. We have the same agency. I know he’s got way more riding on a horse.”

He was referring to Hearn’s family background in rodeo.

“I’ve only been on a horse three or four times, which is bad considering that my dad’s a horse trainer,” Syndergaard said.

Trainer’s room

Angels: Ward (strained left groin) was reinstated from the 10-day injured list and played right field, batting cleanup. He filled a roster opening created Friday, when Jose Rojas was optioned to triple-A Salt Lake.

Rangers: Right-hander Josh Sborz (right elbow soreness) went on the 10-day IL, a day after surrendering a two-run homer to Jared Walsh. Taking Sborz’s place on the roster was left-hander Matt Moore, who last pitched for Texas in 2018. Moore pitched two innings Saturday and gave up one run.

Moore gets a one-year contract paying $2.5 million while in the major leagues. He can earn $400,000 in performance bonuses for innings up to 175 and $600,000 for starts up to 30.

Words from the boss

Angels general manager Perry Minasian supported Maddon’s decision to walk Seager intentionally with the bases loaded during Friday’s game. “He’s got a pretty good track record,” Minasian said.

Research by members of the Society for American Baseball Research found just seven occurrences of bases-loaded intentional walks going back to Adner Dalrymple of the Chicago White Stockings in 1881.

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Minasian was asked whether he had had discussions with Ohtani’s representatives on a contract extension. The GM smiled and said, “That’s an everyday question. Catch me on the right day.”

Up next

Angels: Left-hander José Suarez (0-1, 4.15 ERA) is scheduled to pitch Sunday in the finale of the four-game series.

Rangers: Left-hander Martin Perez (0-1, 6.75) gets the ball as Texas wraps up a seven-game homestand.

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