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Ohtani homers but falters on the mound as the Angels drop opener in Houston

The day started off strong for Ohtani but he couldn’t stop Houston’s dynamic offense in what became a one-sided affair.

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MLB: SEP 10 Angels at Astros Photo by Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani got the offense going for the Angels Friday night against the Houston Astros, but he couldn’t hold it together on the mound, resulting in a bullpen game and a 10-5 Halo loss.

The game started out back-and-forth, with a 2-0 Angels lead. The Astros put up a three-spot in the bottom of the third to take the lead, but the Angels got it right back in the fourth, going up 4-3. Ohtani couldn’t maintain the lead in the bottom half of the inning and had to be pulled early. The Astros held a 9-4 lead after four and each team would tack on a run, but the Angels were never able to recover from that disastrous inning.

With just over three weeks of baseball left and the Angels 13.5 games back of a playoff spot, the reality is that wins and losses as a focal point becomes replaced with progress and analysis than can be used heading into the offseason. With that in mind, there are plenty of talking points outside of the score.

Scoring Summary

  • T-1st Inning: Shohei Ohtani HR (LAA 1 - HOU 0)
  • T-2nd Inning: Jared Walsh HR (LAA 2 - HOU 0)
  • B-3rd Inning: Alex Bregman RBI single (LAA 2 - HOU 1), Yordan Alvarez RBI double (LAA 2 - HOU 2), Carlos Correa RBI single (LAA 2 - HOU 3)
  • T-4th Inning: Kurt Suzuki RBI single (LAA 3 - HOU 3), Brandon Marsh RBI groundout (LAA 4 - HOU 3)
  • B-4th Inning: Jose Altuve RBI single (LAA 4 - HOU 4), Bregman 2-RBI double (LAA 4 - HOU 6), Catcher Interference by Suzuki, Kyle Tucker to first (LAA 4 - HOU 7), Aledmys Diaz 2-RBI single (LAA 4 - HOU 9)
  • T-5th Inning: Jo Adell triple, scored on error by Alvarez (LAA 5 - HOU 9)
  • B-7th Inning: Bregman sacrifice fly (LAA 5 - HOU 10)
  • W: Framber Valdez (10-5, 3.26 ERA)
  • L: Shohei Ohtani (9-2, 3.36 ERA)

The Good

  • Ohtani at the plate: Ohtani got the Angels off to a quick start with a line drive home run to right field to give the Angels a 1-0 lead. He walked twice and finished 1-1 with an RBI. The home run was his league-leading 44th. He is now just three home runs away from the franchise’s single-season HR record of 47 set by Troy Glaus in 2000.
  • Jared Walsh continuing to find All-Star form: Walsh went 2-3 with a home run, double and a walk. He’s batting .409 with a .682 slugging.
  • Jo Adell’s speed: Adell legged out a triple in the fifth inning that turned into a Little League home run after an errant throw. Dude’s got wheels.

The Bad

Kurt Suzuki’s potential swan song: Suzuki made another defensive mistake tonight with the catcher’s interference that allowed a run and wasn’t able to help Ohtani from behind the plate. He also went 1-4 with an RBI single, a lineout into a double play and two strikeouts, which brought his average to .218 and a .605 OPS

  • Andrew Wantz doesn’t save the day: The RHP relieved Ohtani in the fourth and was not sharp. Wantz came in with the game tied and runners at the corners but could not hold them. He got Michael Brantley out but gave up a 2-RBI double from Bregman and three earned runs of his own in 0.2 innings of work.
  • RISP and Lobsters: The Angels hit just 1-7 with RISP and left nine men on. They had chances to build up the lead early but could not capitalize, nor could they take full advantage of a shaky Houston defense.

The Ugly

  • Ohtani on the mound: Ohtani finished with 3.1 IP and allowed six runs on nine hits with only one strikeout. Altuve and Bregman pretty much had their way with him, going a combined 5-5. The worst part is Ohtani was having a nice night at the plate and his short outing robbed the team of more offense.
  • David Fletcher’s funk: Fletcher went 0-5 against Houston, dropping his season average to .279. He’s had a rough go since the All-Star Break, where he came out of it hitting .314. In his last 30 games, Fletch is hitting .215 with 22 hits, five RBIs and 11 strikeouts. He’s actually trending downward, hitting a paltry .071 in his last seven games with a .133 OBP.
  • Astro’s defense: The Astros committed four errors Friday night. The Angels were able to get something going in the fourth inning of a Bregman miscue, but only scratched across one run in the fifth despite three Houston errors that inning.

Play of the Game

Player(s) of the Game

  • Everyone in the Houston lineup besides Chas McCormick and Martin Maldonado contributed at least one RBI, but Bregman was responsible for almost half. The third baseman finish 3-4 with two runs and four RBIs. Altuve was frequently on-base and also went 3-4 with three runs scored.

What’s Next

  • The Angels will take on the Astros at Minute Maid Park tomorrow in game 2 of the three-game series. LHP Jose Suarez (6-7, 3.74 ERA) is coming off his complete game versus Texas and will take on RHP Luis Garcia (10-6, 3.29 ERA). First pitch is at 4:10 p.m. PT and can be accessed via Bally Sports West and KLAA-AM830.

Friday Notables

  • Ohtani’s home run in the first inning was the first homer Valdez had given up to a left-handed hitter this season.
  • RHP Alex Cobb threw a simulated game on Friday and will rejoin the rotation next week if he feels good.
  • In an interview with The Athletic’s Sam Blum, ex-Angels broadcast Victor Rojas had some choice words about his GM search experience with the Arte Moreno and the Angels and aired some of his frustrations with the direction of the franchise.