Blister-free Ohtani lights up radar gun vs. Astros

April 25th, 2018

HOUSTON -- Angels right-hander 's start against the Astros on Tuesday was a story of two extremes.
He hit triple figures on the radar gun six times, hinting that he's getting stronger with each outing of the 2018 season. But Ohtani also yielded a season-high five walks, suggesting that control might have been a struggle at times throughout his 5 1/3 innings.
The Japanese sensation seemed unfazed by the walks when he spoke after the Angels' 8-7 win over the Astros at Minute Maid Park, emphasizing that he felt fine throughout the game -- that the blister that hampered him in his previous outing wasn't an issue -- and commending the Astros' vaunted offense for making him work for every out he recorded.
"The Astros have a really good lineup, and they made me work really hard," Ohtani said through an interpreter. "I need to outwork them, outlast them. If the pitch count goes up, there isn't anything I can do about that. I just need to outlast them."

In a season-high 98-pitch outing, Ohtani yielded four runs on six hits with five walks and seven strikeouts. He had not issued more than two walks in any of his previous three outings this season.
"You look at the five walks, but I tell you, Shohei wasn't missing by much," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "As the game went on, he got really good command of his split. He threw some terrific pitches. He just had to work hard -- almost 100 pitches at 5 1/3 innings is a lot of work. He had good stuff. He gave us a chance to win."
Ohtani's fourth walk came versus to lead off the fifth and proved the most costly. followed it with a first-pitch homer to straightaway center, bringing the Astros to within a run.
"I felt like I made some good pitches on ball fours," Ohtani said. "That was me being aggressive, trying to get them out. Even though I gave up five walks, I don't think that was a big factor at this point. I was just trying to be aggressive and make good pitches."

At times, Ohtani looked dominant. He clocked in at 101 twice, and also reached 100.7 mph during 's at-bat in the fifth.
"To hear Shohei describe it, he feels like as the season goes on, he works his way into his stuff," Scioscia said. "That's pretty good. Seeing the couple of games we've seen, he's had great stuff. He's working his way into it, and he's going to be important to us."
Ohtani can still become the first player in Major League history to homer three times and record three wins in the month of April, but he only has one more shot at it. And he'll have to pitch by Monday -- six days after his first career start against the Astros.
Tuesday's outing came on the heels of a loss to the Red Sox last Tuesday. Hampered by a blister, Ohtani yielded three runs in that abbreviated two-inning start. Though Scioscia and a team athletic trainer did check on Ohtani after he walked Yuli Gurriel in the sixth, there were no concerns that the blister, which Scioscia said is now a callus, was an issue.

"I felt a lot better than last outing," Ohtani said. "I didn't have any bad effects tonight."