Shohei Ohtani sharp, but Angels fall to Rays in 10 innings

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws during the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium on Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Angels and Shohei Ohtani hit a wall Wednesday, their bats muffled by a left-hander with a dominant three-pitch mix and the reigning American League most valuable player yielding to the physical demands of his two-way role in a 4-2, 10-inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium.

Ohtani looked relatively sharp in a six-inning start, giving up one run and two hits, striking out five and walking two, his only glaring mistake a hanging 0-and-1 split-fingered fastball to Kevin Kiermaier, who drove it into the right-center field seats for a solo homer and a 1-0 lead in the second.

But the right-hander’s average four-seam fastball velocity of 96.0 mph was a tick down from his season average of 97.2 mph, and the last fastball he threw in his 92-pitch outing — to Wander Franco in the sixth — was clocked at 93.3 mph.


Though Ohtani retired Franco on a popup to shortstop and struck out Ji-Man Choi and Randy Arozarena, his final 11 pitches of the game were off-speed — six sliders, four curveballs and one splitter.

“Looking at my velocity, I didn’t feel my best today, but I was able to get through six innings,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “It’s hard to say [why], but we were in the last game of a 20-game stretch, so fatigue could be a factor.”

Is there any concern that Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery after the 2019 season, is hurt?

Angels rookie Reid Detmers threw 27 curveballs and 24 changeups to keep Tampa Bay Rays hitters off balance. The result: an unconventional no-hitter.

“No,” Ohtani said. “I’m not worried about that at all.”

Neither is Angels manager Joe Maddon.

“He was a little fatigued today,” Maddon said. “That’s why I sent out Matt [Wise, pitching coach] to see him in the sixth. He said, ‘No, I’m fine,’ and he was. He ended up striking out a couple of guys. His curve was outstanding. He was fine. He just was a little more fatigued today than he was the last time.”

Asked if he might need to incorporate more downtime into his schedule, Ohtani said, “Personally, I don’t think I need any days. I want to keep on going. But ultimately, it’s up to Joe.”

The Angels went 13-7 in the grueling 20-game stretch, and it looked as if they might extend a magical week that began with Sunday’s walk-off win over Washington, Ohtani’s first grand slam Monday and Reid Detmers’ no-hitter Tuesday with another dramatic comeback Wednesday.

Taylor Ward, who sat out the previous two games because of right-hamstring tightness, breathed life into a sagging offense with a pinch-hit, two-run homer off reliever Andrew Kittredge to tie the score 2-2 in the eighth, the club’s first pinch-hit homer since Jared Walsh hit one on Sept. 9, 2019.

Angels' Taylor Ward watches his home run during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Angels’ Taylor Ward watches his home run during the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium on Wednesday.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

But the Rays rallied for two runs off left-hander Aaron Loup in the 10th, and the Angels were unable to counter in the bottom of the inning, as their three-game winning streak came to an end.

Vidal Brujan led off the top of the 10th with an RBI double to left to score the automatic runner for a 3-2 Rays lead.

Taylor Walls grounded out to third, but Harold Ramirez stroked a pinch-hit RBI single to center for a 4-2 lead. Loup struck out Yandy Diaz and Franco to end the inning.
The Angels put runners on first and third with one out in the bottom of the 10th when Mike Trout, whom Maddon was hoping to rest for the entire game, drew a pinch-hit walk.

But left-hander Brooks Raley got Ward to hit into a fielder’s choice and struck out Brandon Marsh to end the game.

“We absolutely pitched well enough to win that game today,” Maddon said, “but so did they.”

The Angels pounded the Rays for 12 runs and 18 hits, including four homers, in Tuesday night’s 12-0 win, but those booming bats were silenced Wednesday by Shane McClanahan, who mixed a 97-mph fastball, 81-mph curve and 88-mph changeup to blank the first-place Angels on three hits in seven innings and striking out 11.

Tampa Bay extended its lead to 2-0 in the eighth when Walls singled off Angels reliever Ryan Tepera, stole second, took third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Diaz’s RBI grounder to shortstop.

The Angels lead the majors in shutouts and are fifth in team ERA. Coupled with their powerful batting order, they appear poised to make a playoff run.

Jack Mayfield opened the bottom of the eighth with a single to right. After Tyler Wade’s fielder’s choice grounder, Ward fell behind Kittredge with a 1-and-2 count.

But Ward somehow got enough of his barrel on a 95.7-mph inside sinking fastball to keep his 386-foot drive down the left-field line fair for a tying two-run homer.

“It was just a good game of baseball,” Maddon said. “They beat us fair and square, but I liked the way we got after it again.”