ANAHEIM -- One of the Majors' most intriguing lineups may be taking off its training wheels.The Angels opted for a 1-2 punch of Michael Trout and Shohei Ohtani for Tuesday's game against the Astros, pitting their best two hitters back-to-back in the starting lineup for the first time this season.
ANAHEIM -- One of the Majors' most intriguing lineups may be taking off its training wheels.
The Angels opted for a 1-2 punch of Michael Trout and Shohei Ohtani for Tuesday's game against the Astros, pitting their best two hitters back-to-back in the starting lineup for the first time this season. Trout went 0-for-2 with two walks and a run scored, and Ohtani went 1-for-4 in a 5-3 loss.
This is the highest in the order Ohtani has batted when starting as the designated hitter. It is also the first time Trout has hit anywhere other than the two-hole all season. Ohtani is the first rookie to start a game in the top two spots in the lineup and start a game as a pitcher in the same season since Willie Smith did it with the Angels in 1964, according to STATS.
"His talent is too real. … Obviously he's done some terrific things on the mound and in the batter's box, and we want that to continue," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.
Ohtani began the day leading the Halos in batting average (.348) and slugging percentage (.652) among players who have logged at least 20 games, with five homers and 16 RBIs to go with 16 strikeouts and five walks. The left-handed-hitting, right-handed-throwing Ohtani is also 3-1 with a 3.58 ERA in six starts on the mound, with 43 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings.
Trout is off to another MVP-caliber start, entering the day hitting .310/.448/.641 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs over 41 games.
When asked whether he contemplated batting Ohtani first and Trout second, Scioscia said everything was on the table.
"There's a lot of paper in the wastebasket," he said.
Ohtani 'penciled in' to pitch Sunday vs. Rays
Scioscia all but confirmed that Ohtani will start on Sunday against the Rays, the last day of this 11-game homestead.
"We will continue to evaluate Shohei. We sure hope [he pitches Sunday]," Scioscia said. "You know his routine: He'll hit, throw a couple 'pens -- a light 'pen, then a full gorilla 'pen -- before Sunday and we'll have an idea. But right now he's penciled in [for Sunday], for sure."
• Keynan Middleton will receive a second opinion on the damaged UCL in his right elbow with a doctor in Cincinnati. He returned to the disabled list Monday after making an early exit on Sunday against the Twins.
• Right-handed pitcher Blake Wood will make at least one more rehab start -- either Wednesday or Thursday -- before returning to the Angels. He has been on the DL since April 21 with a right elbow impingement.
Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.
Avery Yang is a reporter for MLB.com based in Anaheim.