Shohei Ohtani felt some discomfort in his right arm in his second start of 2020, against the Astros on Sunday, leading him to undergo an MRI exam, the club announced after its 6-5 loss in 11 innings. Ohtani wasn’t available to speak to the media after the game, and the Angels aren’t expected to know the results of his MRI exam until Monday.
His second start of the year was an improvement on his season debut, but the two-way star still had trouble finding the strike zone and lasted just 1 2/3 innings. His velocity was better in the first inning, but he threw 48 pitches in the second and his final three fastballs clocked in at 89.6 mph, 89.1 mph and 89.7 mph. Angels manager Joe Maddon didn’t think it was an injury at the time and didn’t have an update on Ohtani’s health after the game. It was Ohtani’s second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery after the 2018 season.
“I thought it was fatigue, from where I was standing,” Maddon said. “We were trying to get him out there as quickly as we could at that point. There was also the chance that he could get through it, and then I wasn't certain if he'd be able to continue or not. It was one of those cusp situations. I thought he was just out of his delivery at that point."
Ohtani, who failed to record an out and gave up five runs vs. the A’s in his first start, looked better in the first inning against the Astros. He threw a perfect frame on eight pitches, including a strikeout of George Springer to open the game. His velocity was also much better than his first outing, as his fastball averaged 92.9 mph against Oakland but ticked up to 94.4 mph and touched 97.1 mph against Houston before dipping in his final three fastballs.
But Ohtani struggled to throw strikes in the second inning, as he walked Michael Brantley, Yuli Gurriel and Josh Reddick to load the bases with nobody out. He recovered to strike out Kyle Tucker and Jack Mayfield before running into a 3-2 count against Dustin Garneau. Ohtani threw a fastball that appeared to be a strike, but it was ruled a ball by home-plate umpire Alfonso Marquez to bring home a run.
“If he gets that call right there, he’s out of the inning after 30-something pitches,” Maddon said, "and it could’ve been a different outing.”
Ohtani remained in the game and walked Springer to bring home a second run, and his day was done. Ohtani threw 50 pitches, including 42 in the second inning. Jose Rodriguez replaced Ohtani and got Jose Altuve to ground out to get out of the jam.
Ohtani's ERA through two starts now stands at 37.80. He hadn't previously started in a Major League game since Sept. 2, 2018, after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He's also hitting .148/.179/.407 with two homers and seven RBIs in six games as the designated hitter.