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Angels Turn to Ohtani Looking For Second Straight Win in Baltimore

The Angels’ ace is coming off the longest start of his career.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Kirthmon F. Dozier via Imagn Content Services, LLC

After a brutal weekend offensively in Cleveland, the Angels bounced back in a big way in their series-opening victory against the Orioles on Tuesday evening, posting a whopping 14 runs in what was their highest single-game total of the season. The Halos will try to keep the bats hot once again tonight in Baltimore, but considering the fact that they’re sending Shohei Ohtani to the mound as their starting pitcher, they might not need to in order to pick up their second straight win.

Ohtani is coming off of his best start of the season last week in Detroit, where he went a career-high eight innings while allowing just a single earned run and six hits while striking out eight and walking none. This was the latest high point in what has been an incredible run of games on the mound for Ohtani, who has pitched to a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP across six starts since the start of July. Both of these figures are the best in all of baseball among pitchers who have started at least five games, and they are ones that have catapulted the AL MVP frontrunner into Cy Young contention as well.

The Orioles will likely need a great performance of their own on the mound to match Ohtani if the last few months are any indication, and they guy they’ll send to do that is Chris Ellis, who making his first career start and just his third major-league appearance. If that name rings a bell to Angels fans, that’s because their opponent today was once a pretty highly-regarded prospect in the Halos’ farm system many moons ago.

A third-round pick by the club back in 2014, Ellis reached as high as No. 5 on their MLB Pipeline top prospects list before being shipped to the Braves alongside Erick Aybar and Sean Newcomb in the trade that brought Andrelton Simmons back to Anaheim prior to the 2016 season. Since this deal, the former Angels farmhand has bounced around a number of different organizations, appearing in the Braves and Cardinals’ systems before playing briefly in the majors for the Royals in 2019 and the Rays earlier this year. Ellis now finds himself with in Baltimore for his first appearance with the Orioles, and he’ll need to somehow go toe-to-toe with the hottest pitcher in all of baseball right now in Ohtani if the O’s want to snap their 19-game losing streak.

The state of the Angels’ offense over the last month makes this a little more feasible, but if they can come anywhere close to yesterday’s onslaught, it may be a tougher task than it might’ve seemed just a short time ago. The Halo bats jumped all over Orioles pitching Tuesday, with everyone except Ohtani recording at least two hits and Brandon Marsh leading the way with the first four-hit game of his young career. Given the consistency issues that the lineup has been plagued by, they could very well put up another low-scoring effort in this one, but the level of comfort that they had yesterday is hopefully a precursor to another breakout game with the bats.

Angels News and Notes

  • There was a lot of roster shuffling that took place before Wednesday’s game. Starting with the new faces, the Angels called up pitchers Elvis Peguero and Jake Petricka and infielder Kean Wong from Salt Lake. Peguero, who was acquired at last month’s trade deadline in the deal that sent Andrew Heaney to the Yankees, will be making his major-league debut whenever he gets into a game. Petricka was signed by the club out of independent ball in June and will be making his first appearance in the big leagues since 2019 with the Brewers.
  • As for the corresponding moves, Dylan Bundy was placed on the 10-day IL with a right shoulder strain and Reid Detmers and Austin Warren were placed on the IL with no designation. Detmers and Warren join recent callup Jose Marte as guys with no listed designation on the injured list, which may point to some sort of COVID problem afoot in the Angels clubhouse, although this is obviously not confirmed.
  • In other injury news, Joe Maddon said that Justin Upton might be available to pinch hit despite not being in the starting lineup. Upton is currently dealing with a calf injury (the two scariest words in the book for Angels fans this season), but it hasn’t gotten to the point where he’d need an IL stint as of yet.
  • In a lighter bit of information, Ohtani has an opportunity to complete his own personal home run tour over the next two days. The only park that he has not homered in in his major-league career is Oriole Park at Camden Yards, which he can cross off the list with a long ball on either Wednesday or Thursday.