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“Ohtani Day” Kicks Off The Weekend Series Against The Houston Astros

Shohei Ohtani Set To Battle A Fierce AL West Foe For Just The 2nd Time This Year While Hoping To Get The Halos Back In The Win Column 

MLB: Texas Rangers at Los Angeles Angels Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to yesterday’s off day, the Halos kicked off the eight-game, 10-day road trip by splitting a mini two-game interleague series with the San Diego Padres. With a record of 3-4 through the first seven games of September and 69-71 overall, manager Joe Maddon is looking to inspire the team into playing like it’s “1985” during the remaining 22 games (including tonight) of the regular season. Unfortunately, the Astros have not been a friendly matchup for the Angels as the first place AL West squad have taken eight of 12 head-to-head matchups while keeping home field advantage on their side winning five of seven at Minute Maid Park.

For the 21st time, Shohei Ohtani will take to the mound in search of his 10th win of the year. The two-way phenom will pull double duty for the 17th time as he will bat behind leadoff hitter David Fletcher in the batting order. Through 20 games, Ohtani is 9-1 with a 2.97 ERA while accumulating 135 strikeouts in 112 innings pitched. His pitching numbers have popped off the page since the All-Star break, tossing an impressive 5-0 record in seven starts with a 2.20 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. The right-hander is coming off his 12th quality start performance on September 3 versus the Texas Rangers where he struck out eight over seven innings and recorded 117 pitches, which set a new career-high.

Ohtani has only faced Houston on one occasion this season, it was back on May 11 at Minute Maid Park. It was quite a night as he struck out 10, which is his third-highest total of his career, while limiting the Astros lineup to just one run and four hits over seven innings.

For Astros manager Dusty Baker, he will send southpaw Framber Valdez to the bump for his 19th start of the season. The 27-year-old Dominican Republic native continues to be a dynamic force in the starting rotation following a breakout 2020 season, assembling a 9-5 record with a 3.08 ERA and 103 strikeouts in 111 innings. Tonight will mark Valdez’s first appearance against the Halos this season after an injury delayed the start to his 2021 season until May 28. In four starts against AL West opponents (two versus Rangers and one each against A’s and Mariners), Valdez is 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA. His best start came on July 24 against the Texas state rival Rangers, spinning six no-hit innings en route to a 4-1 Astros victory.

Player To Watch

Over the past 15 games the motto has been simple, “JO KNOWS”! The poise Jo Adell has shown at the plate is something we have never seen before from the former No. 1 Prospect. He is slashing .321/.368/.547 with 3 HR, 14 RBI and 8 Runs Scored during this time, while recording a hit in 12 of the 15 games. He is currently riding a six-game hitting streak thanks in part to an eighth inning two-run home run on Wednesday night at Petco Park.

Adell has found limited success against [Framber] Valdez in his career, batting .286 (2-for7) with a double and two runs scored back during the 2020 season. Opposing a lefty pitcher has not phased Adell this season as he bats .250 with 3 HR and 9 RBI in just 40 at-bats. He ranks fifth amongst the current roster in Slugging Percentage versus left-handers at .475.

Angels News & Notes

  • RHP Alex Cobb had a very productive sim game today and if he is “Okay” tomorrow, Joe Maddon said “He’s expected to rejoin the rotation”
  • The remaining rotation for this series against Houston: Saturday - LHP Jose Suarez and Sunday - RHP Jaime Barria