The Los Angeles Angels failed to secure their third consecutive victory at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday in a 5-1 loss to the Houston Astros. Shohei Ohtani, who batted second and started on the mound, did not walk away with the win despite perhaps his best pitching performance in the major leagues.
He pitched 7.0 innings for just the third time in his career. In that span, he allowed four hits, just one walk, and one run on a shallow fly ball home run from Kyle Tucker. He also was one of only two Angels players to get a hit on Tuesday, with the other being Taylor Ward. Ohtani even spent one inning out in right field. However, it was the inning that gave the game to the Astros.
The bullpen relieved Ohtani for just one inning, the eighth. In that time, Alex Claudio and Aaron Slegers combined to allow four runs, including a three-run home run by Yuli Gurriel.
Ohtani spoke about his outing and gave some detail into his pitch choices for the night, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I felt like they were sitting on my fastball,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “It opened up the splitter or breaking ball, but I felt like I could get one-pitch outs with the fastball.”
Ohtani also discussed the move to right field in the eighth inning, a Joe Maddon decision that he had absolutely no issue with.
“It was a close game,” Ohtani said. “I figured with my spot in the batting order coming up in the ninth inning, if I could make a difference with the bat, I was all for it.”
Sadly, Ohtani was unable to make a difference with his bat, given that the game was already out of reach by the time he got to the plate. The Angels bullpen, which had been incredible the last two days, let the team down. It’s not entirely their fault, however, as most of their strongest arms were unavailable due to overuse in recent days. Mike Mayers and Raisel Iglesias were both unavailable.
Through five starts, Ohtani is now sporting a 2.10 ERA and has given up 11 hits, 20 walks, and six earned runs in 25.2 innings. In that same span, he’s struck out 40 batters.
Andrew Heaney says bullpen struggles are a part of baseball
Just last week, the Angels bullpen broke up a similar quality start from Andrew Heaney. However, neither Ohtani nor Heaney were upset, as they know that’s just how the sport goes sometimes. Heaney said that he’s definitely been saved by the bullpen in years past, and so the opposite has to happen at some point.