Shohei Ohtani effectively wild in return to mound in Angels’ win over Rangers
Shohei Ohtani hopped off the mound and strode confidently toward the dugout after his fourth-inning strikeout of Isiah Kiner-Falefa Tuesday night, the Angels right-hander exuding a swagger that belied his indignance toward an erratic but scoreless start that seemed to raise as much concern as hope.
The blister on the middle finger of Ohtani’s pitching hand that relegated the two-way star to just hitting for two weeks was not an issue, at least physically. Ohtani threw 80 pitches, five more than his soft 75-pitch limit, giving up one hit, striking out seven and walking six in a 6-2 win over the Texas Rangers.
While his average fastball velocity of 95.6 mph was down from 98.1mph in his previous start April 4, Ohtani’s final three four-seamers of the game clocked in at 97mph or above, and his split-fingered fastball was devastating, the finishing pitch to six of his seven strikeout victims.
But Ohtani had trouble locating his fastball and threw only 37 of 80 pitches for strikes. He fell behind at some point on 13 of the 19 batters he faced. Four walks came on four pitches.
Shohei Ohtani will be under close watch as he tries to move on from blister problem
The red flags for Shohei Ohtani, the warning signs that the blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand is starting to heat up, are obvious. The Angels right-hander will start looking at his fingers between pitches. He’ll get a little fidgety on the mound. His command will start to waver.
“We’re at a point where we’re secure and feel good enough that he’s going to go out there and it’s not going to be an issue,” Angels interim pitching coach Matt Wise said Tuesday afternoon, “but it’s going to be one of those things we monitor very closely and keep an eye on him.”
Ohtani will take the mound Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers in Angel Stadium, his first start since April 4, when his blister flared up against the Chicago White Sox and relegated the two-way star to only hitting for the next two weeks.
Betting lines and odds for Angels vs. Texas Rangers on Tuesday
After falling to the Texas Rangers 6-4 on Monday, the Angels hope two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani can help them get back on the winning track.
Ohtani is pitching for the first time since April 4, when he fell awkwardly trying to make a catch at home plate against the Chicago White Sox. In that start he issued five walks, but only one of the three runs he allowed in 4 2/3 innings was earned.
The Rangers will look to Jordan Lyles to continue his improvement. His first eight starts of 2020 saw him post an 8.19 ERA with opponents hitting .299 and drawing 4.2 walks per nine innings. In his most recent six starts dating back to the end on the 2020, Lyles has given up three runs or fewer in all but one game, with a 4.75 ERA.
Rusty Angels fall short in late rally against Rangers
Shohei Ohtani crushed a Kohei Arihara changeup to deep center field in the fourth inning Monday night, the Angels slugger so sure he had homered off his former Nippon Ham Fighters teammate that he tossed his bat aside and broke into a trot.
Seconds later, some 400 feet away, Texas center fielder Adolis Garcia made a leaping catch of Ohtani’s drive at the top of the wall, the play emblematic of an Angels effort that fell just a bit short in a 6-4 loss to the Rangers before a crowd of 11,396 in Angel Stadium.
“Honestly, I felt like it was gonna be gone off the bat,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “It was actually one of the better swings I’ve put on the ball this season. I feel like the wind kind of brought it back a little bit. I was happy with the approach; I just didn’t get the right results.”