Los Angeles Times
Ohtani’s 11 strikeouts extend his streak
Shohei Ohtani’s outing against the Texas Rangers wasn’t his strongest compared with what he’s been able to accomplish thus far in his career. It was still a quality start, but because of the lack of run support, it ended with another loss attached to his record on the season.
Through six innings on Thursday at Angel Stadium, Ohtani gave up eight hits and two earned runs, including a home run, but also struck out 11 en route to his team’s 2-0 loss to a division rival. It was his sixth-straight start with 10 or more strikeouts, his ninth such start this season.
Ohtani has previously said that he wants to win. After yet another loss, he was asked whether he wanted to stay in Anaheim in the short-term and the long-term.
To which he replied in Japanese: “The question isn’t whether I want to stay. I have to do what I’m supposed to do. Regardless of where I am, what I do doesn’t change. Of course, there’s the part of me that feels grateful of how the team has taken care of me. I like the fans too of course.
“Right now, as long as I’m with the Angels — and it was like that today too — I want to do my best to win each and every game. There’s tomorrow to think about too and I have to turn the page.”
Ohtani struggled with his first three batters of the game, giving up three straight hits to load the
Marcus Semien, his first batter, reached base on a single hit to the newly returned David Fletcher. Fletcher dove to smother the grounder as it crossed into the outfield grass behind second base, but as he rose to his knees to throw to first, he accidentally flicked the ball away.
Corey Seager and Jonah Heim, the next two batters, reached on line drives into the outfield.
Then it started to click. Ohtani needed five pitches each to get rid of Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia.
“Shohei” chants broke out from a group of children sitting in the stands as his next batter, Leody Taveras, stepped into the box. And three pitches were all he needed to end the inning without letting a single Ranger score.
He flexed his arm and pumped his fist in celebration of his victory in the short battle.
“They were all on two-strike counts,” Ohtani said. “I left the ball over the plate and got hit. But I think it was big that I was able to hold them to zero.”
But Ohtani needed to grind through the rest of his night and received no run support from the Angels’ offense.
“I thought it set an early tone, real quick,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said of Ohtani’s first inning. “I mean, he’s amazing.”
He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning and a mostly clean third inning, then got tagged with a leadoff solo home run in the fourth.
Lowe stared down Ohtani’s 1-1 slider and hit it deep over the digital billboard along the center-field wall. Ohtani stared in the direction of the wall, turning the replacement ball in his hand.
He struck out the next three batters.
In the fifth inning, a single by Josh H. Smith and a double by Seagergave the Rangers another run. Ohtani capped his night after Lowe tripled off of him, but no additional runs scored as Ohtani struck out his next two batters, Garcia and Taveras, then got Kole Calhoun to fly out.
“Ultimately, it turned out to be a fatal inning for us,” Ohtani said of the home run in the fourth. “It was hard to get that run back. Personally, I was more displeased with the second run.”
Luis Rengifo got the crowd pumped with a triple that rolled along the left corner of the outfield wall in the first inning, but he was left stranded — and then again in the sixth when he hit a double.
Fletcher doubled on his first atbat for his first big league hit since May 6 — two days before he landed on the injured list.
Rengifo also singled in the ninth inning, coming a home run shy of hitting for the cycle.
“That streak that he went on for quite a long time up until the last inning of his last start,” Nevin said of Ohtani, “knowing every pitch he gets is a small margin for error because of what our offense has been, makes it even more impressive what he does.”