Heading into the Los Angeles Angels’ series against the Texas Rangers, it was unclear exactly when Shohei Ohtani would start. A sore thumb from an errant foul ball made Joe Maddon cautious, saying it could be any time between Wednesday night through their upcoming series against the L.A. Dodgers.
As it turns out, the thumb healed up quickly and he got the start on Wednesday. The last time he started against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, he allowed four first-inning runs and was removed from the game after five innings, one of his shortest starts of the season. On Wednesday, he had no such issues, as he rarely even got into trouble.
Over six innings, Ohtani allowed just one earned run. That run came after Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a leadoff double, then was brought home on back-to-back groundouts. Ohtani did not walk a batter and has walked just one batter in four starts since his disaster at Yankee Stadium.
Maddon praised Ohtani for finding a way to be effective and record quick outs without having his usual pitch movement and filthy stuff, according to Dave Sessions of MLB.com:
“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he competed really well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “His slider was really good, and a couple of cutters. He didn’t throw a lot of splits, he threw a couple that were fine, [and he] got the velocity when he wanted it late … he’s got great feel for everything that he does. So, maybe not his most dynamic performance but again, highly effective, because he knows what he’s doing out there.”
Ohtani was his usual humble self about the performance, saying specifically that he was disappointed for giving up the one run and for allowing more hits than he would like.
“I wish I could’ve not given up that run in the sixth, but it is what it is,” Ohtani said of his performance. “It would have been nice to give the ball to the relievers with a two-run lead.”
“It’s give or take, I’ve been giving up less walks but I’ve been giving up more hits,” Ohtani said.
The Angels will take one run on four hits from a starting pitcher every single time. Luckily, Austin Warren, Steve Cishek, and Raisel Iglesias made sure that the Angels still got the 2-1 win, as the three were all excellent in high-leverage relief.
Ohtani did not have his best night at the plate, but he bolstered his ever-growing AL MVP campaign with yet another great performance on the mound.
Angels sticking with seven-man rotation
It’s not permanent, but the Angels have stated that — for the time being — they are going to keep seven starters in their rotation. It’s highly unorthodox, but the Angels believe it’s the best way to prevent fatigue going from a shortened 60-game season to 162.