ARLINGTON -- Hours after receiving a recommendation to undergo Tommy John surgery, Shohei Ohtani showed that his damaged right elbow won't hinder his potent left-handed bat for now.Ohtani homered twice en route to a four-hit night for the Angels, who cruised to a 9-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday
ARLINGTON -- Hours after receiving a recommendation to undergo Tommy John surgery, Shohei Ohtani showed that his damaged right elbow won't hinder his potent left-handed bat for now.
Ohtani homered twice en route to a four-hit night for the Angels, who cruised to a 9-3 win over the Rangers on Wednesday to earn a series victory at Globe Life Park.
Ohtani's 17th home run of the season -- a solo shot to right field off Austin Bibens-Dirkx -- extended the Angels' lead to 6-0 in the fifth inning. He later added a two-run shot off Eddie Butler to make it 9-2 in the eighth and secure his second career multi-homer game. The 24-year-old slugger's 18 homers are now tied with Kenji Johjima for the most by a Japanese rookie in a single season.
"He's a professional," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said. "People will never understand how seriously he takes his job. He's very professional. He comes in, he works. He does his homework, and he balls. He goes out there and impresses his teammates every day, really. It's nice to see that he's still in good spirits. And he can still hit a ball really, really hard."
Ohtani, who was not made available to the media Wednesday, added a pair of singles, a walk and a stolen base, lifting his batting average to .287 on the season. While an MRI on Wednesday revealed new damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, general manager Billy Eppler said Ohtani will be medically cleared to continue hitting until a decision is made regarding the surgery.
"He's a tough kid, not only physically, but mentally," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He understands the game, he understands the challenges. He knows he's talented, and tonight, he was a hitter. He didn't think about what the future is and the decisions he's got to make for his elbow. He was out there playing baseball and hitting the ball, so it's something I think he's done his whole career when he's pitched and he's hit. So now he's going to focus on hitting, and he had a great night."
Simmons also homered, while rookies David Fletcher, Jose Fernandez and Taylor Ward chipped in with multi-hit efforts. Even without Michael Trout and Justin Upton, the Angels' lineup produced 16 hits and generated enough support for rookie Jaime Barria, who allowed only two hits over five scoreless innings to pick up his 10th win of the year.
"He had to work hard to get through five innings," Scioscia said. "We talk about Jaime, what his upside is -- even when he's not as crisp as he was maybe the other night in Houston, he's facing a tough lineup, and he puts up five zeros and gives us a chance to win."
For the second time this season, the 22-year-old Barria bested the 45-year-old Bartolo Colon, who was chased after giving up five runs (four earned) over four innings. Barria was less than nine months old when Colon made his MLB debut on April 4, 1997. He is the youngest opposing pitcher Colon has ever faced.
The Angels opened the scoring in the first inning after Kole Calhoun singled and scored on a double by Fletcher. After Ohtani walked, Ward drove in Fletcher from second with a two-out single to center field, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Ohtani then beat out an infield single in the third -- which was confirmed following a replay review -- to set up Simmons' two-run shot to left field that made it 4-0. It was Simmons' 10th home run of the season. Calhoun added a sacrifice fly in the fourth, and Simmons drove in his third run of the night with an RBI single in the seventh.
"It's contagious," Simmons said. "After that [first inning], everybody put up good at-bats, made Bartolo work a little bit. I don't know if he had his best stuff, but we still had to go out there and score runs, and the guys did that today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Rangers loaded the bases with one out against Barria in the first inning after Rougned Odor reached on a force out and Elvis Andrus and Nomar Mazara walked. Still, Barria escaped trouble by striking out Adrian Beltre swinging on a slider and coaxed a flyout from Jurickson Profar to end the inning.
"The first inning was a tough one," Barria said, in Spanish. "I was throwing too many sliders instead of fastballs, but I made the adjustment. I was fortunate to get out of that."
Barria is now 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in four starts against the Rangers this season.
The Angels will head to Chicago and enjoy an off-day Thursday before kicking off a three-game series against the White Sox on Friday night at 5:10 p.m. PT at Guaranteed Rate Field. Right-hander Felix Pena (1-4, 4.19 ERA) will oppose left-hander Carlos Rodon (6-4, 2.89) in the series opener. Pena gave up two runs (one unearned) over a career-high seven innings in his last start Saturday against the Astros. He has logged a 2.14 ERA on the road this season, compared to 6.17 ERA at Angel Stadium.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.