Going into Friday night’s game against the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had been struggling at the plate. However, he was riding an eight-game winning streak and had been one of baseball’s best pitchers since the All-Star break.
This made the results of Friday’s game even more perplexing. In the first inning, Ohtani hit his league-leading 44th home run of the season, a much-needed break from the swings and misses he had been accruing. Normally, when Ohtani is feeling it at the plate, it translates to success on the mound as well.
This looked to be the case through two innings. Ohtani had allowed three hits, but no runs, and the Angels held a 2-0 lead. However, things changed in the third inning. Ohtani allowed three runs on four hits, giving the Astros a 3-2 lead.
The Angels tacked on two runs in the fourth to make it 4-3, and Ohtani stayed on the mound for that inning, but didn’t make it out. He gave up a hit by pitch and two singles before being removed from the game. In total, Ohtani allowed six runs on nine hits, striking out just one batter over 3.1 innings.
Joe Maddon made the decision to pull Ohtani when he felt there was no longer anything to gain from him staying out there, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“He just didn’t have his best stuff,” Manager Joe Maddon said. “There was no swing and miss tonight as you saw. I thought he battled, but in my mind’s eye, there was no reason to push it. When he’s not having his day I don’t want to extend him.”
Ohtani had a theory of his own, saying that he had some residual soreness from his last outing on the mound, when he threw a career-high 117 pitches against the Texas Rangers.
“I would say there’s a little bit of soreness left from my last outing,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I only have a couple weeks left in the season, so I’m focused on finishing strong and healthy.”
As the Angels look ahead to the rest of the season — just 21 games over 23 days — Ohtani (9-2) may have only two or three more starts left. He’ll absolutely want as many chances as possible for redemption from this lackluster performance.
Luckily, he was able to crush home run No. 44, making the night not a complete loss, even though the Angels fell 10-5 and Ohtani’s eight-game pitching win streak was snapped. He now holds a slim two-homer advantage over Salvador Perez and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
Reid Detmers trying to work back from COVID IL
Reid Detmers received an unpleasant shock when he tested positive for COVID, forcing him to quarantine with Austin Warren in Baltimore for 10 days. In that time, he was able to do some reflecting on his first few MLB starts.
He’s now working to get back and pitch again before the season ends, even if time is starting to run out on the young Angels starter.