Shohei Ohtani continued to amaze, striking out 10 in seven strong innings, but received little offensive support and was let down by the Angels bullpen in a 5-1 loss to the Astros on Tuesday night in Houston.
Limiting walks was the key to Ohtani’s longevity on Tuesday, entering the game with 19 walks in 18⅔ innings this season and a 22.6-percent walk rate that ranked 376th among the 378 pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched in 2021.
But against the Astros, Ohtani only walked Kyle Tucker with two outs in the second inning. Keeping the ball in the zone — Ohtani threw 62 of his 88 pitches for strikes — helped him stay efficient, and stay in the game for seven innings. The only run he allowed was a home run by Tucker in the fifth inning, one of three hits given up by Ohtani all night.
Tuesday was Ohtani’s longest start on the mound since lasting 7⅔ innings on May 20, 2018, and the third time in 17 career starts he’s lasted at least seven frames.
Astros manager Dusty Baker on Shohei Ohtani: “That’s the best I’ve seen him throw. He had 95-99 and was dotting the fastball low and away. That’s the best command and control. Boy, he’s some athlete. To do that and go play right field, too."— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) May 12, 2021
Ohtani also hit on Tuesday, the third time he has remained in the lineup in five pitching starts this season. He singled in four at-bats on the night.
When Ohtani made his last pitch, he was trailing 1-0, but Taylor Ward fixed that with a solo home run in the top of the eighth. In the bottom of the inning, Ohtani replaced Ward in right field, accomplishing something that was last done in MLB nearly seven decades ago, which came with an incredible story.
The only reason why Haddix moved to right field was because Stan Musial and Frank Baumholtz were in a race for the batting title, so Musial went and pitched against Baumholtz, who batted righty and reached on an error. Haddix went back to pitch.— Evan Boyd (@EvanBoydSTATS) May 12, 2021
Only time Musial ever pitched. pic.twitter.com/wZJUAvY4vd
But on the mound after Ohtani left, things went south quickly for the Halos. Aaron Slegers retired only one of his three batters faced in the eighth inning, and left in favor of lefty Alex Claudio, who allowed a go-ahead single to lefty Michael Brantley, then two batters later the right-handed Yuli Gurriel put the game away with a three-run shot.
The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Angels.
Yuli Gurriel: "Ohtani is an incredible human being. He’s really one in a million."— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) May 12, 2021
Injuries & roster updates
Utility man Franklin Barreto will have Tommy John surgery and miss the rest of the season, manager Joe Maddon told reporters on Tuesday. Barreto injured his elbow during spring training and started the season on the 60-day injured list. Recovery time is expected to be 10-12 months, say the Angels. Rhett Bollinger at MLB.com has more.
It’s been a rough time for Barreto since the Angels acquired him last August 29 from Oakland in the Tommy La Stella trade. Barreto was just 2-for-17 in his six games last season with the Angels, who used him as a utility man, staring at second base, third base, shortstop, and left field in his brief time before getting hurt. He had left shoulder surgery last September.
Before Tuesday’s game, the Angels optioned José Suarez to Triple-A Salt Lake, one day after he allowed one run in four innings in a win as the bulk pitcher in the opener in Houston. Pitchers Jaime Barria and Noe Ramirez were called up, and Junior Guerra was placed on the 10-day injured list with a right groin strain.
To make room for Ramirez on the 40-man roster, pitcher Felix Peña was sent outright to Salt Lake.