Any time Shohei Ohtani takes the mound for the Los Angeles Angels, it’s a must-see experience.
On Tuesday night, the Japanese right-hander had a four-inning outing for the ages that could only be described as effectively wild.
Ohtani became the first starting pitcher since at least 1901 to toss four shutout innings with at least six walks and seven strikeouts. He allowed only one hit in the Angels’ 6-2 victory over the Texas Rangers.
According to Sportradar, Ohtani joined Colorado right-hander Tyler Chatwood (2017) and Bill Bailey of the 1914 Baltimore Terrapins as the only starting pitchers to go five innings or fewer and allow no runs on one hit with at least six walks and seven strikeouts.
“I would give my control a score of zero out of 100. It is definitely something I need to improve on. But I was able to make good pitches and get through the outing,” Ohtani said through a translator.
Ohtani and three Angels relievers combined to give up five hits, which tied a season low. The pitching staff was supported by Los Angeles’ second three-homer game of the year as Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Maui’s Kurt Suzuki went deep. The home run by the Baldwin graduate was his first as an Angel and the 134th of his career which is most by any Hawaii born player in Major League Baseball history.
“Pitching was great and we got some nice situational hitting. It was a pretty complete victory,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Ohtani — who was on a pitch limit — took the mound for the first time since April 4 after dealing with a blister issue on the middle finger of his throwing hand. He threw 80 pitches in all and was never able to retire the Rangers in order. But he was effective when needed.
“I felt like I was battling myself and the blister more than the Texas lineup,” Ohtani said.
After getting Isiah Kiner-Falefa to ground out to start the game, Ohtani walked the next three hitters to load the bases. However, he got out of the inning by striking out Nick Solak and Willie Calhoun.
Adolis García walked with one out in the second but was caught stealing at second. Ohtani walked García again with two outs in the fourth and then hit Brock Holt with a pitch before he struck out Kiner-Falefa for his final out of the night. Ohtani’s 37 strikes included 13 swings and misses.
“This guy is elite and has elite stuff. Our at-bats were pretty good; we kind of waited him out,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “It is one of those things where we had our chance, but he made quality pitches to get out of it. After the first, he was a little more effective.”
Ohtani had nine pitches over 100 mph against the Chicago White Sox in his first start, but didn’t reach triple digits Tuesday. He said he cut back on the velocity due to blister concerns but would like to ramp it back up in his next start.
“His stuff is that good that he has been able to fight through these walks. As he gains command of all of his pitches, he will be able to go deep and be more successful,” Maddon said.
Solak homered for the Rangers, who left nine runners on base. Jordan Lyles (0-2) went six innings, allowing three runs and five hits.
Trout, whose 32-game on-base streak was snapped Monday, had three hits. He led off the fourth with a double to left-center after miscommunication by the Texas outfielders, and gave the Angels a 2-0 lead when he scored on a wild pitch by Lyles.
After Solak’s solo shot to left-center off Griffin Canning (1-1) brought the Rangers within a run in the sixth, Trout took Lyles’ full-count fastball over the left-field wall in the home half.
Texas closed to 3-2 when Kiner-Falefa led off the seventh with a triple and scored on a one-out bunt single by Joey Gallo. But the Angels put it away with a three-run seventh on Pujols’ drive to center and Suzuki’s two-run homer down the left-field line.
QUITE A START
Scott Schebler made the most of his first start with the Angels. Schebler was in right field and led off the third with a double. He advanced to third on Suzuki’s fly to right and then gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead when he beat the throw home by Gallo to score on David Fletcher’s sacrifice fly.
10,000 AND COUNTING
Besides hitting his first home run with the Angels, Suzuki became the 16th catcher in history to record at least 10,000 putouts. Suzuki’s milestone putout came in the second inning on a strikeout by Jose Trevino.
Rangers: 1B Ronald Guzman is expected to see a specialist before the end of the week concerning the torn meniscus in his right knee. Guzman was injured April 12 against Tampa Bay.