The Angels offense reverted back to their slumping ways Wednesday night against the Texas Rangers, but they did just enough to get Shohei Ohtani the well-deserved 2-1 win.
Ohtani has been one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball since his disastrous outing against the Yankees on June 30. Tonight, he continued his upward trend and climb towards American League MVP by dominating a Texas lineup that couldn’t get anything done with runners on base. Ohtani, perhaps dealing with the lingering effects of a blister that delayed his start, relied heavily on his slider which featured a slightly boosted velocity and good control. He finished with no walks, six strikeouts, four hits and one earned run allowed in six innings on 86 pitches.
Lefty Anaheim native and San Clemente High School alum Kolby Allard has had a rough season so far but pitched fairly well against the Angels, striking out three and only giving up two earned runs (one via a home run) in six innings. Neither he nor Ohtani were given any significant run support by their respective teams. The Rangers had ZERO hits with runners on and the teams were a combined 0-15 with runners in scoring position.
Despite being in control most of the game and having a lack of offensive help, Ohtani was still critical of his performance. “Ideally, I wish I didn’t give up that run in the sixth inning,” he said after the game. He also expressed some mild frustration about being pulled despite a manageable pitch count. “Maybe not his most dynamic performance, but he was highly effective out there,” added skipper Joe Maddon on Ohtani. “I thought tonight, that was the right number for Shohei.”
The Angels got on the board first for the first time in the series in the third inning when Juan Lagares displayed great heads-up baserunning to score on a two-base wild pitch. Jack Mayfield later tacked on a solo home run in the fifth inning to expand the lead to 2-0. The home run was Mayfield’s second in as many days and ended up as the game-winning run. The home run was especially significant for Mayfield, he said after the game, because it is his mother’s birthday. The now-assumed everyday third baseman appropriately dedicated the solo shot to her.
The Rangers would get their lone run in the sixth inning on an Adolis Garcia ground out. Aside from that, the Texas offense could never capitalize on their scattered run opportunities.
Both bullpens performed well, specifically with Angels relievers Austin Warren and Steve Cishek providing holds. The rookie Warren stranded a runner on third in the seventh and Cishek induced a strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out to end the eighth.
The Angels had an opportunity to add to their lead in the ninth with an Upton infield single and advancement to second due to an Andy Ibáñez throwing error. However, a baserunning gaff by Upton on a Jo Adell lineout to deep center field ultimately left him stranded at second and the game still tight heading into the bottom of the ninth.
In the bottom half of the inning, Angels closer Raisel Iglesias and AL Reliver of the Month issued his first leadoff walk of the season, but followed it with a strikeout and double play to collect his 23rd save of the season. The win moves the Angels back up to .500 on the season and six and a half back of the second AL Wild Card spot.
Ohtani’s strong performance puts his record at 6-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.93, which would slot him as the third best in the AL if his number of innings qualified. Allard goes to 2-10 on the season with an ERA of 5.07.
Dylan Bundy (1-8, 6.66 ERA) will face right hander Spencer Howard (0-2, 5.72 ERA) tomorrow in the series finale at 11:05 a.m. PST as the Halos look for the series win and their third straight victory.
- Ohtani’s 17 inning streak of getting the leadoff hitter out ended in the sixth inning after a leadoff double by Isiah Kiner-Falefa.
- Third baseman Anthony Rendon was expected back by Angels staff shortly after going on the 10-day IL, but is now undergoing season-ending hip surgery. He is expected back by the start of next season.
- The Angels will open next season in Oakland. Again. This will be the case for the fifth time in the last six years. Either MLB scheduling is lazy or indulges in sick jokes.
- RHP Janson Junk made his debut with Angels’ AA affiliate Rocket City Trash Pandas. He was solid (5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 SO), but what truly stands out is that it’s not every day someone named “Junk” gets to play for a team monikered “Trash Pandas”. It’s the little things in life.