Shohei Ohtani runs out of steam in Angels’ loss to Athletics

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani tosses the baseball in the air.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani tosses the baseball in the air before being taken out of the game by interim manager Phil Nevin, background left, during the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani typically puts the onus of losses added to his record on the season on himself. Those losses aren’t always his to bear.

On Wednesday, he had a few undesirable pitches, which resulted in the Oakland Athletics getting two earned runs off of him (three runs total). He also left the game early because of a forearm cramp in his right arm, his throwing arm. Ohtani said after the game he still planned to DH on Thursday.

“If I’m healthy enough to play, I want to be out there,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “It feels like I can’t really afford to miss games at this point.”

The Angels lost to the A’s 3-1, another game in which adequate run support was nowhere to be found. The Angels offense scattered six hits, overall going one for 10 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base.


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In the third inning, they had their best chance to pull ahead, with Andrew Velazquez and Magneuris Sierra getting back to back hits, David Fletcher getting them both to advance a base on a sacrifice bunt and Ohtani coming up to bat.

“Especially the situation with the second and third one out, it felt like if I would’ve come through in that at-bat, we could’ve won the game,” Ohtani said. “Since I didn’t, it felt like that was the biggest moment of the game.”

Ohtani pitched 5 2/3 innings of seven-hit baseball, seven-strikeout baseball with a quiet night (0 for 3) at the plate. He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh inning with that cramp. It wasn’t his most dominant outing, but it was still decent. He started off with his typical command, throwing the first two innings without giving up a hit. He gave up just a single in the third, running into a hiccup in the fourth.

Ohtani had started to look as if he was running out of steam despite not yet throwing 50 pitches to that point. The fourth started with his leadoff batter, Ramon Laureano, reaching on a throwing error from third base by Luis Rengifo.

Ohtani threw a wild pitch to his next batter, Sean Murphy, that went into the dirt, fast rolling away from catcher Max Stassi to the backstop, which allowed Laureano to advance to second base. That at-bat concluded with Murphy hitting a grounder that rolled just too far to the right of David Fletcher and into right field, allowing Laureano to score. The run was unearned.

Angels' Shohei Ohtani watches his groundout.
Angels’ Shohei Ohtani watches his groundout during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday at Angel Stadium.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

He got through the fifth inning mostly unscathed, pointing out to left fielder Magneuris Sierra and Rengifo — after Sierra picked up a hard hit grounder that rolled into the outfield and chucked the ball to Rengifo for the final out of the inning, at third base.

The sixth was Ohtani’s most costly. Laureano again managed to hit a single off him and Murphy followed that up with a two-run home run right into the visitor’s bullpen over the left-field wall. As Laureano and Murphy jogged around the bases, Ohtani didn’t miss a beat.

He bent over to adjust his pants legs, turned around to get the next baseball from home plate umpire Nestor Ceja, walked back onto the mound, where he stood and stared into the outfield, then turned back around to face his next batter.

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“If you asked him, he’s probably gonna say he wants one pitch back,” interim manager Phil Nevin said after the game. “I thought he threw the ball fine.”

Ohtani couldn’t get through the sixth inning. Usually, when he knows he’s on his last batter, he’ll empty the tank and get that last batter out. He couldn’t Wednesday and after giving up a single to his last batter on his 99th pitch of the game, out came Nevin to take the ball from him.

Ohtani still walked to the dugout with a standing ovation from the announced crowd of 25,190. He was done for the night on both sides of the plate after that, with catcher Kurt Suzuki coming in to pinch-hit for him his next time around in the seventh inning.

The Angels got their only run of the game in the fifth inning. Sierra hit a single to lead off the fifth and Rengifo’s double three batters later drove Sierra in.