Halos back to .500 after Ohtani's strong 6 IP

Mayfield's three hits, HR help push Angels past Rangers

August 5th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- continued to add to his historic season totals Wednesday -- at least in the pitching column -- with a nonchalantly competent outing in a 2-1 win over the Rangers. Ohtani tossed six innings, allowed one earned run and struck out six -- none of those anywhere close to a season best, but that’s a high bar to clear.

Ohtani, who also happens to lead the Majors in home runs (37) and is tied for second in RBIs (82), did not add to his jaw-dropping offensive numbers, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout, but he didn’t need any run support from himself this time. Juan Lagares scored on a third-inning wild pitch from Rangers lefty Kolby Allard, and Jack Mayfield blasted an Allard fastball 422 feet into the Angels’ bullpen for what proved to be the winning run.

Ohtani has batted for himself in 13 of his 16 starts, and has been held hitless in only five of them. Not that it mattered Wednesday, as he barely got into trouble at all on the mound.

“He didn’t have his best stuff, but he competed really well,” manager Joe Maddon said. “His slider was really good, and a couple of cutters. He didn’t throw a lot of splits, he threw a couple that were fine, [and he] got the velocity when he wanted it late … he’s got great feel for everything that he does. So, maybe not his most dynamic performance but again, highly effective, because he knows what he’s doing out there.”

Maddon said he spotted signs of fatigue in Ohtani after the sixth inning, by which point he had thrown 86 pitches.

“By reading his face, I just thought that was enough … I thought tonight that was the right number for Shohei,” said Maddon, who got a shutout inning each from Austin Warren, Steve Cishek and Raisel Iglesias to hold onto the win and bring the Angels back to the .500 mark, at 54-54.

Ohtani has pitched at least six innings in nine of his 16 starts.

“I wish I could’ve not given up that run in the sixth, but it is what it is,” Ohtani said of his performance. “It would have been nice to give the ball to the relievers with a two-run lead.”

Despite his self-criticism, Ohtani allowed runners in scoring position only three times, the last when Isiah Kiner-Falefa led off the sixth with a double and scored on a groundout. Ohtani retired 18 of 22 batters faced, including seven in a row from the first to third innings. He walked no one for the second consecutive start, having issued just one free pass in his last 26 innings.

“It’s give or take, I’ve been giving up less walks but I’ve been giving up more hits,” Ohtani said, but perhaps he was just answering the question humbly -- he has allowed 17 hits over his last 26 innings (5.9 per nine innings) after allowing 41 hits in his first 60 frames (6.2 per nine) this season.

Maddon said Ohtani’s fastball command has improved over his past few starts, too.

“From the very first inning tonight, he was throwing his fastball for a strike,” Maddon said. "I always look at that. If he knows where his fastball’s going, he’s going to be pretty pitch-efficient.”

After Wednesday's solid stint on the hill, Ohtani has won five consecutive decisions and hasn’t shouldered a loss in his last nine starts.