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Ohtani registers benchmark home run but the Halos’ pitching/hitting self-destructs in 8-2 loss

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The Angels put together a strong first inning but the game fell apart shortly after.

MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Angels’ 8-2 loss to the Houston Astros on Saturday night started promising. It obviously finished in disaster.

Shohei Ohtani continued his leadoff success with his MLB-leading 39th home run in the first inning. Jared Walsh would single in David Fletcher to make the score 2-0. The Angels seemed to had gotten to Astros’ RHP Luis Garcia early in their fourth matchup against him this season. They couldn’t get any more out of the inning, a theme that would become prevalent the rest of the game. Garcia eventually finished with a line of 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 SO and 1 HR.

There isn’t a ton to write home about regarding this game, but there were still some narratives worth diving into.

Player of the Game

  • RF Jake Meyers: The 25-year-old Astro rookie destroyed Angels pitching tonight, going 2-4 with two home runs and five RBIs. His second home run was a grand slam off Junior Guerra which put the game out of reach for the Halos.

The Good

  • Ohtani: Shohei Ohtani’s first inning home run was his 39th on the season and tied the single-season franchise record for most home runs by a left-handed hitter. Reggie Jackson set the mark during the 1982 campaign. (The overall record is 47 by Troy Glaus in 2000). Ohtani stole his 17th bag of the season and recorded a 101.8 mph single in the third inning. Since moving to the leadoff spot earlier in the week, Ohtani has four extra base hits and four RBIs.
  • Jo Adell made a spectacular catch in left field in the third inning. He has noticeably improved his defense this season. While he remains a work-in-progress on both offense and defense, Adell has shown that he belongs and is a worthwhile investment for the Angels going forward.
  • Today is longtime-Angels’ color commentator Mark Gubicza’s birthday! There isn’t much more to rave about the team’s performance against the Astros so we’ll take this time to highlight a positive spot of the broadcast team.

The Bad

  • The Angels can’t beat good teams: The difference between good teams and bad ones is the ability to beat teams at a .500 record or better. The Angels have notoriously been good against sub-.500 teams this year and have struggled against teams in the division and teams over .500. This fault was once again exposed during the weekend series against the Astros. Tonight’s loss put the Angels at 3-8 against the Astros and 18-32 against the division altogether. That’s the story of the season so far.
  • Lobsters: The Halos recorded a respectable nine hits tonight, but only plated two runs total, all coming in the first. They finished with 10 team LOB and 24 individual LOB, enough to signal that the situational hitting was disastrous. The narrative of the Angels’ lack of hitting with runners in scoring position since the All-Star Break continued tonight, as the Halos hit only 1 for 10 with RISP. The next bad point held a lot of the blame.
  • Stassi and Iglesias: Oof, the number four and five hitters were awful tonight. Max Stassi and Jose Iglesias hit a combined 0-7 with three strikeouts and stranded 10 runners. A hit here or there from either of them and the ballgame may have been competitive, but they clearly didn’t show up tonight. Stassi hit into a double play that shifted the first inning from a possibly big one into only a respectable outcome.
  • Barria: RHP Jaime Barria has had a frustrating career with the Angels so far, being great at times and not having his best stuff at others. His inconsistency was on full display tonight. His final line was 3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO and 1 HR. In his brief three innings, he was hit hard and it was only a matter of time before the Astros broke through. He has been better and will need to be better if he wishes to have a future in the rotation.
  • Guerra: RHP Junior Guerra continued his unremarkable season by giving up a grand slam in the sixth after allowing the first three runners to reach base. He’s sporting a 5.40 ERA this season. Not much else needs to be said.
  • The Grand Slam Problem: Meyers’ sixth inning grand slam was the third slam in four days against the Angels. This grand slam was the Astros’ second in as many days. The bullpen keeps loading the bases and the opposition happily takes advantage.

Scoring Summary

  • 1st Inning: Ohtani RBI HR, Walsh single (2-0)
  • 3rd Inning: Meyers RBI HR, Correa RBI sac fly, Alvarez RBI double (2-3)
  • 5th Inning: Alvarez RBI double (2-4)
  • 6th Inning: Meyers 4 RBI HR (2-8)

The loss moves the Angels to 58-60 on the season. Rookie LHP Reid Detmers (0-2, 10.61 ERA) will continue his Gauntlet of Death against RHP Lance McCullers Jr. (9-3, 3.22 ERA) tomorrow at 1:07 p.m. PST at Angel Stadium.

Saturday Notables

  • Alex Cobb is not near a return. Although he had a clean MRI, he is still feeling pain in his wrist. Joe Maddon is confused as to what is going on. That makes two of us.
  • RHP Chris Rodriguez was placed on the 7-day IL with an unspecified injury. Maddon in the postgame said he “would not anticipate a quick return.” The Angels’ injury woes won’t stop mounting.