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Shohei Ohtani again outstanding, Angels blank Houston

Apr 20, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez (44) reacts after striking out during the second inning against the Los Angeles Angels at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani carried a perfect game into the sixth inning and also played a central role with his bat in the first-inning uprising that keyed the visiting Los Angeles Angels’ 6-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Wednesday.

In the rubber match of a three-game series, Ohtani (1-2) retired the first 16 batters he faced in earning his first career win over the Astros, against whom he was 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA and 0-2 with a 6.50 ERA at Minute Maid Park. He threw 81 pitches, 55 for strikes, and rode a dominant slider to 12 strikeouts, tying his career high.

Ohtani fanned 12 batters in his second start with the Angels on April 8, 2018, against Oakland.

Ohtani generated 11 swinging strikes on 35 sliders and recorded six swings and misses among his 19 splitters. His first nine strikeouts were all swinging, including six in succession covering the third and fourth innings. Ohtani retired those nine batters with five splitters and four sliders.

Ohtani was especially dominant through his first five innings, requiring only 60 pitches to retire the 15 batters he faced. His lone called third strike came against Kyle Tucker for the second out of the fifth on a splitter.

Ohtani retired Yuli Gurriel swinging with a curveball to cap the frame.

It wasn’t until the sixth inning with one out that Houston broke through. Ohtani fell behind catcher Jason Castro 3-1 before running the count full with a pinpoint slider. Castro then dumped the 3-2 pitch into shallow center field for his first hit of the season. Ohtani walked Jeremy Pena with two outs but escaped the sixth unscathed to keep his ledger clean.

Ohtani recorded a leadoff walk, a two-run double and scored the first run in the Angels’ six-run first inning. Astros right-hander Jake Odorizzi (0-2) continued his early-season struggles by issuing four walks while recording only two outs, with the final free pass issued to Tyler Wade with the bases loaded.

Odorizzi also issued a bases-loaded walk to Anthony Rendon and surrendered an RBI single to Brandon Marsh that pushed the Angels to a 2-0 lead.

Wade chased Odorizzi with his two-out walk two batters before Ohtani drilled a double off the scoreboard in left against Astros left-hander Blake Taylor to cap the rally. He finished 2-for-4.

The Astros suffered their second shutout loss to the Angels this season.

–Field Level Media