Shohei Ohtani’s game against the Texas Rangers wasn’t his strongest compared to what he’s achieved so far in his career. It was still off to a good start, but included slightly more traffic on the base paths than it had seen in the past two months.
In six innings Thursday at Angel Stadium, Ohtani gave up eight hits and two earned runs, including a home run, but also slammed 11 en route to his team’s 2-0 loss to a division rival. It was his sixth straight start with 10 or more strikeouts, his ninth major league start this season overall.
Ohtani struggled with his first three batters of the game, giving up three direct hits to load bases.
Marcus Semien, his first batter of the game, reached first base with a single hit against newly returned David Fletcher. Fletcher dove to smother the grounder as he crossed into the outfield grass behind second base, but as he got to his knees to first try to make the throw, he accidentally flicked the ball away from him.
Corey Seager and Jonah Heim, his next two batters, both got on-line drives to the outfield.
Then it started clicking. It took Ohtani five pitches each to get rid of Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia.
“Shohei” chants erupted from a group of kids seated in the Lexus Diamond Club as his next hitter, Leody Taveras, entered the pits. And three pitches was all it took to finish the inning without a single Ranger scoring.
He flexed his arm and pumped his fist into the sky to celebrate his victory in the short battle.
“I got all these hitters down to two strikes and they got this two strike single from me three [times] back to back, but I was able to hold on and get out somehow,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.
But Ohtani had to work through the rest of his night and received no offensive support from the Angels.
He threw a 1-2-3 second inning and a mostly clean third inning, then he was marked with a solo home run in the fourth.
Lowe, the first Ranger to score in the fourth shot, glared at Ohtani’s 1-1 slider and slammed it low over the center-most digital billboard along the midfield wall. Ohtani stared towards the midfield wall and turned the spare ball in his hand.
He then knocked out his next three batters.
In the fifth inning, two hits, a single by Josh H. Smith and a double by Seager, would give the Rangers another run. Ohtani ended his night after Lowe tripled from him, but no more runs were scored as Ohtani knocked out his next two batters, Garcia and Taveras, and then got Kole Calhoun to fly out.
“That home run was what ultimately made the difference,” Ohtani said. “It’s very unfortunate, could have avoided it, but I felt like the second run I gave up was kind of a dagger.”
The Angels’ offense was able to pick up some exciting extra base hits throughout the game, but none matched a run recorded on the scoreboard.
Luis Rengifo wowed the crowd with a three that rolled down the left corner of the outfield wall in the first inning. His goal, which came from Rangers starter Spencer Howard, initially looked like it would just be a brace. With Smith still stumbling around that corner, still not in control of the ball, Rengifo rounded the second and grabbed a break for the third.
He got stranded that inning and then again in the sixth when he hit a double to center field. So did Fletcher in the third and Brandon Marsh in the fifth.
Fletcher’s double came on his first at-bat of the game and was his first major league hit since May 6 – two days before he was put on the injured list.
Rengifo also singled in the ninth inning, coming just one home run to avoid hitting the cycle.
“That streak he’s continued right up to the last inning of his last start for quite a long time,” Nevin said of Ohtani even more impressively at what he does.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/angels/story/2022-07-28/angels-rangers-gamer-shohei-ohtani Shohei Ohtani extends his strikeout streak but Angels lose