Shohei Ohtani throws a gem as Angels upset Astros as they walk away with extra

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani gave up one run in eight innings Saturday night against the Houston Astros. He gave up six hits, struck out five and walked none in the Angels’ 2-1 victory in 12 innings. (Raul Romero Jr./Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani shut out the Houston Astros the last time he pitched against them on July 13th. During that game, he struck out 12, giving up one earned run on four hits and two walks.

On Saturday, in front of an announced crowd of 38,244 at Angel Stadium, and with a slightly different roster of players in the lineup, he turned in another good performance without giving up double-digit hits. Ohtani gave up one earned run on six hits and struck out a five-hitter over eight innings in the Angels’ 2-1 win over the Astros in 12 innings. Matt Duffy hit an RBI single that drove in Taylor Ward to end the marathon home run.

Ohtani set a career high in innings pitched (136), eclipsing his previous mark of 130 1/3. He lowered his earned run average to 2.58 and increased his strikeouts to 181, both fifth in the American League.

“He was unbelievable,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said of Ohtani after the game. “When he’s in a groove and he knows he’s in a groove, he’s like Larry Bird in basketball or Magic or Jordan.”

Ohtani also got some help with some key defensive help in the outfield.

In the first inning, newcomers Ryan Aguilar and Taylor Ward hit Ohtani with two outs on back-to-back balls that Aguilar and Ward needed to slide to catch. In the second, shortstop Andrew Velazquez threw out speedster Christian Vazquez during a close game at first.

It was those kinds of plays, along with three strikeouts, that helped Ohtani keep the Astros from getting on base through three innings. And he was also able to get out of his start in a 1-1 game after Aguilar’s sacrifice bunt scored Luis Rengifo, who had reached one earlier in the seventh.

“They have a good one-to-nine lineup, so I was taking each batter one at a time,” Ohtani said in Japanese through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I tried to play as much as I could and I feel like I succeeded.

Angels first baseman Shohei Ohtani punches a teammate in the bottom of the first inning, Sept. 3, 2022.

Angel pitcher Shohei Ohtani punches a teammate in the bottom of the first inning. (Raul Romero Jr./Associated Press)

“Not only the outfielders, but the infielders made great plays behind me, they helped me keep my pitch in reverse, they helped me get to the eighth inning.”

Rengifo’s single was one of three hits the Angels collected before Ohtani’s night was over. David Fletcher was responsible for the other two.

Based on the way the Astros were making contact with Ohtani’s pitches, the strikes were bound to fall.

Ohtani started the fourth by striking out Jose Altuve on four pitches. Yuli Gurriel then hit a grounder to first that Mike Ford scattered for the Astros’ first hit of the game. Gurriel was shut out when Alex Bregman grounded into a double play.

Angels second baseman David Fletcher, right, makes a throw from shortstop Andrew Velazquez en route to turning a double play.

Angels second baseman David Fletcher makes a throw from shortstop Andrew Velazquez en route to turning a fourth-inning double play. (Raul Romero Jr./Associated Press)

But in the fifth, the Astros strung together hits, the first a double by Trey Mancini and the second a single by JJ Matijevic that scored the game’s first run. There was more trouble for Ohtani in the next inning. Altuve and Bregman singled off Ohtani, who loaded the bases with two outs after hitting Kyle Tucker in the hands with a pitch.

The inning ended with an easy flyout.

The last time the Astros were in town with Ohtani on the mound, Houston manager Dusty Baker was looking for Ohtani to possibly start for his American League team in the All-Star Game. (Ohtani, of course, did not, preferring to be ready to make the first start for the Angels’ first game back from the break.)

“He’s not just an All-Star, he’s a big star,” Baker said of Ohtani before that game, a 7-1 Angels victory in which Ohtani went two for four with two RBIs. “He’s one of the top offensive players and one of the top players. And he’s smart — I can tell by the way he plays the game that he’s not only talented, he’s smart.”

Michael Lorenzen is making progress

Michael Lorenzen made his final rehab start Friday at low-A Inland Empire with the goal of getting his pitch count close to 90.

He completed his outing after throwing 86 pitches over six innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, two walks and a hit by a pitch. He got five.

His next start will be off the injured list and back with the big league club. Lorenzen has been in IL since July 7 with a right shoulder strain.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *