Shohei Ohtani had four pitches that were all doing terrible things to the Minnesota Twins. The two-way sensation got five consecutive strikeouts at one point while he pitched into the seventh inning of another dominant performance.
Although the Los Angeles Angels couldn’t do enough against the Twins’ own rookie pitching star to get a win for Ohtani, they made sure to end their series with a celebration anyway.
After Ohtani racked up 11 strikeouts while yielding only three singles, Zack Cozart delivered a walk-off RBI single in the Angels’ 2-1 victory Sunday.
Ohtani again dazzled his home fans while throwing a season-high 103 pitches in his sixth start for the Angels. With his fastball hitting 99 mph and his off-speed pitches plummeting through the strike zone, the Japanese right-hander reached 43 strikeouts for the season, blowing past Bo Belinsky’s franchise record for strikeouts in a pitcher’s first six games.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Ohtani’s performance “phenomenal. … He had both breaking balls working, his slider and his curveball. His splitter was as good as we’ve seen it, and he got some big outs with his fastball.”
Yet Ohtani was denied his fourth win after he left to a standing ovation following Logan Morrison’s nine-pitch walk in the seventh. Reliever Cam Bedrosian promptly allowed hits by his first two batters, including pinch-hitter Joe Mauer’s tying RBI single.
“I didn’t feel fatigued at all, actually,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I feel like I was able to mix in all of my pitches and keep the hitters off balance.”
Although neither got a decision, Fernando Romero joined Ohtani in an entertaining duel at the Big A.
Romero pitched five innings of four-hit ball in his third big-league start as the Twins finished their impressive 10-game road trip with seven wins, but also their major league-worst sixth walk-off defeat.
Romero allowed his first run in the fifth inning, ending his scoreless start to his career at 15 2/3 innings when Justin Upton beat out a potential double-play grounder in the fifth. But the Dominican right-hander otherwise excelled against the Angels’ veteran lineup, striking out six while walking three.
“We battled, and you’ve just got to take the positive stuff into the next game,” Romero said. “I felt so good.”
Minnesota put four straight batters on base in the ninth inning, yet the Angels kept it tied.
Ehire Adrianza was thrown out at the plate by Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler while he attempted to score from first on Robbie Grossman’s double.
“You just put the best throw on the bag that you can,” said Kinsler of his relay throw to Martin Maldonado, who made a slick tag. “There’s a lot of ways that can go wrong.”
Blake Parker then got Brian Dozier to pop out with the bases loaded to end the ninth. Parker (1-1) got the win for throwing just one pitch.
Chris Young was hit by a pitch from Zach Duke (2-2) leading off the Angels’ ninth. After Maldonado bunted Young to second, Cozart cracked his third hit of the day and his second game-ending hit of the season into left field, where Eddie Rosario couldn’t field it cleanly for a throw to the plate.
Ohtani was making his first daytime home start since he took a perfect game into the seventh inning of a brilliant one-hit, 12-strikeout performance against Oakland on April 8. The Twins managed two short singles early on, but Ohtani also struck out nine of 12 batters during the first four innings, including five in a row during the second and third.
“As advertised,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said after his club’s first look at Ohtani. “He’s got pitches. He could get the breaking ball over, and he got guys to chase it.”
Angels reliever Keynan Middleton threw just 12 pitches in the eighth inning, heading to the dugout with a 1-1 count on Rosario. Middleton only returned from the disabled list last Thursday after sitting out with elbow inflammation. Scioscia said Middleton had “elbow discomfort” and will undergo an MRI exam Monday.
LOMO KNOWS SOMETHING
Morrison got two hits and that key walk against Ohtani while the rest of Minnesota’s lineup struggled mightily. He was the only Twins starter who didn’t strike out at least once.
IRON MAN 2
Trout didn’t start for the first time this season, but the two-time AL MVP struck out looking as a pinch-hitter with two runners on in the seventh inning. He was on deck when Cozart ended it. Trout has played in all 39 games for the Angels, joining Upton in making an appearance every day so far this season.
Maldonado had two hits and a walk for the Angels, scoring the game’s first run on Upton’s groundout. The Gold Glove catcher is 14 for 24 since his 0-for-34 hitless streak ended May 1.
Twins: Jake Odorizzi (3-2, 3.83 ERA) takes the mound when they return home for a makeup game against Seattle. The April 8 meeting was postponed by cold. The right-hander has 38 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings this season.
Angels: Andrew Heaney (1-3, 4.78 ERA) is on the mound for the start of the Houston Astros‘ first visit to Angel Stadium since winning the World Series. The Halos won two of three against their AL West rivals last month in Houston.
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