Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani was honored with a slew of awards before Tuesday night’s 12-0 victory against Tampa Bay at Anaheim, Calif.
It might have been better to hold the ceremony before the two teams wrap up their three-game series on Wednesday night.
That’s because Ohtani (3-2, 3.08 ERA) will take the mound against a team he has dominated with his arm and bat. He has a tough act to follow after teammate Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter against the Rays on Tuesday.
Detmers walked one and struck out two in the first individual no-hitter in the majors this season.
Ohtani won the American League Most Valuable Player Award, the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, the Silver Slugger Award and the Edgar Martinez Award for last season.
He might be adding to his list of achievements Wednesday as he makes his sixth start of the season against Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (2-2, 3.06).
In two career starts against Tampa Bay, Ohtani has allowed only two runs in going 1-0. He has 16 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.
Ohanti also has been stellar at the plate against the Rays. In 16 career games, he has a .417 batting average with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. Two of those home runs, including the first grand slam of his career, came Monday night.
Prior to that, Ohanti had been off to a relatively slow start. But Angels manager Joe Maddon said it was only a matter of time before Ohtani came around at the plate, including his ability to hit for power to the opposite field.
“He has looked better,” Maddon said “The ball has gone to left-center. He was just getting beneath everything, but now the angle is better off the bat. Wow, if we can keep him right there for several months.”
Add the fact that Ohanti is coming off one of the best pitching starts of his career — 11 strikeouts against Boston on Thursday — and a sweep by the Angels looks like a real possibility.
But McClanahan is the Rays’ ace and their best option to slow the high-scoring Angels, who also have benefited from three home runs by Mike Trout in the last two games.
If history is any indicator, McClanahan might be able to do that and help the Rays salvage a 10-game West Coast swing that started with six straight wins but has been followed by three straight losses.
In two career starts against the Angels, McClanahan is 1-0, having gone 10 innings while allowing three runs and six hits while striking out 12.
But McClanahan will need help from an offense that suddenly has gone quiet.
“It definitely is a punch in the gut,” Rays infielder Taylor Walls said of the no-hitter by Detmers. “It kind of takes a hit at your pride a little bit. But we’re going to go to sleep and wake up tomorrow the same way we did this morning, same way we’re going to do every day here on out. … Tomorrow, nobody will really care.”
The Rays were without one of their top offensive weapons on Tuesday. Outfielder Manuel Margot, who was named the American League’s Player of the Week for last week, sat out with a hamstring injury, and it’s unclear if he will be available Wednesday.
–Field Level Media