Shohei Ohtani strikes out 11 as Angels defeat White Sox

The presence of Shohei Ohtani on the hill almost certainly means that something unbelievable is about to happen for the angels. His 11 strikeout performance on Wednesday provided another dominant start for the team, which needs all the best it can get.

Ohtani joined an elite group of pitchers and became only the third in Angels history to knock out 30 batters and not give up a run in three starts, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The other two are Nolan Ryan and John Lackey. His scoreless streak reached 21 2/3 consecutive innings. All of this is on top of his continued brilliance on the plate, though he didn’t score in the Angels’ 4-1 win over the Chicago White Sox that night, winning two of three games in the series.

“There’s nothing special that really clicked or changed, but I just hit better, put the ball in play and get a good result,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

The White Sox increased Ohtani’s pitch count early, letting him work through 79 pitches before he was able to hit a #9 strikeout in the fifth inning. Still, he persevered, blinding the White Sox through 52/3 innings and giving up five hits and one walk over 108 pitches, 74 of which were strikes.

In the first inning, White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson and first baseman Jose Abreu singles worked against Ohtani. But the traffic on the bases didn’t make it past second base as Ohtani got all three of his outs with swinging strikeouts.

He got through the second and third innings, leading to easy outs and adding three more strikeouts to his total. He got into trouble in the fourth inning

First batter of the inning Luis Robert hit a grounder on the third baseline. Tyler Wade made a diving stop but couldn’t hit Robert with his throw. Abreu got another single from Ohtani before he could get the first out of the inning. The second out, a strikeout by AJ Pollock, helped calm Ohtani, but he then went to Leury Garcia to load the bases. Ohtani made sure his next batter, Josh Harrison, would be his last of the fourth and delivered his eighth strikeout.

He drove through the fifth inning before that pitch count started to weigh on him. Struggling to get just two outs in game six, he climbed off the mound and spoke to catcher Max Stassi to rest for a few moments between batters. When he finally got prank number 11, he looked like he knew that was all he had left.

He grabbed his back towards the end of his outing but said he was fine and looking forward to the Thursday off.

“I really wanted to finish that inning, but they have a really good lineup and they fight every at-bat to try and increase my shot count,” Ohtani said.

He left the mound and entered the dugout to a standing ovation from the 27,612 spectators.

“He just keeps going out there and … takes games like this very seriously because he knows what’s at stake and he’s proven it again,” interim manager Ray Montgomery said of Ohtani.

Thanks to the Angels’ top order in the first inning, the team was able to take a 2-0 lead early on. Taylor Ward, who hit a single, was driven home by Mike Trout’s double in the next at-bat. Ohtani took a walk to reach base, then allowed Jared Walsh’s grounder trout to score after a field error by Chicago starter Michael Kopech.

The Angels made it 4-0 in the sixth inning on Luis Rengifo’s double home run.

How are the chances?

The Angels’ season went wrong so quickly.

They rode high into May and compiled a 27-17 record with significant chances of making the playoffs. Across 14 games, those odds went from ample (77%, according to FanGraphs) to unlikely (22%) to the last loss of that record slump.

Going into the last game of a three-game series Wednesday with the Chicago White Sox, the Angels had a 15% chance of making the playoffs, having lost 9-10 since the losing streak ended.

With 36-41 before Wednesday and a run against division leader Houston, the more pressing question isn’t whether the Angels will make the playoffs. It’s about whether they end up above .500 at all.

Okay, maybe a .500 team means landing a wild card spot with the extended playoffs this season, but that’s another debate.

Technically, the Angels have time to make up ground. The baseball season isn’t officially half over yet, but context is everything.

The Angels failed to win their series against the Kansas City Royals, who started 23:42 at Angel Stadium. They also failed to win their second series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels were able to win the series against the White Sox, but when they can’t consistently beat the teams they statistically should beat, beating the leaders in their division and league becomes a tall order. Shohei Ohtani strikes out 11 as Angels defeat White Sox

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