BOSTON -- Shohei Ohtani helped put a stop to the Angels’ three-game losing streak on Monday, but he couldn’t stop the rain from causing a delay that put an end to his outing after two innings.
Ohtani, making his fourth start of the season on a rainy Patriots’ Day at Fenway Park, struck out three, allowed one run over two hitless frames and went 2-for-5 at the plate in the Angels’ 5-4 win to avoid a series sweep. He was aided by a three-run homer from Hunter Renfroe, Zach Neto’s first career hit and 3 1/3 strong relief innings from lefty Tucker Davidson.
Ohtani was frustrated by his shortened outing but was pleased to see his teammates pick him up. The Angels will decide if his next start will be moved up after he threw just 31 pitches Monday.
“I have no control of it and there’s nothing I can do, so it’s time to move on,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I felt like I could go back out there, but we didn’t know how long the delay would be. We had some internal discussions.”
The Angels had several things working against them, the first being that the game had a scheduled start time of 11:10 a.m. ET, which meant an 8:10 a.m. PT start. First pitch was then delayed 56 minutes due to rain. With the early start and the weather conditions, fellow stars Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon were also held out of the lineup.
But the offense gave Ohtani some early breathing room with a four-run first inning against right-hander Brayan Bello, sparked by a one-out single from Ohtani and Renfroe's homer.
“It’s tough being an 11 o’clock game when you’re coming from the West Coast, and it’s not easy for them over there either,” Renfroe said. “We had a couple guys out of the lineup, but Shohei pitched great and our pitchers backed him up.”
Ohtani, the American League MVP in 2021 and the runner-up last season, entered his start with a league-leading 0.47 ERA, as he had only allowed one run in 19 innings. But he allowed a run in the first without surrendering a hit, opening with a leadoff walk for his fourth consecutive start. He then uncorked two wild pitches before giving up an RBI grounder to short to Rob Refsnyder. But he struck out his World Baseball Classic teammate Masataka Yoshida on a 98.4-mph fastball to end the inning.
Neto, who was called up Saturday, backed Ohtani in the second by collecting his first Major League hit with a single to left to open the frame. Ohtani followed with a single and Neto eventually scored on an RBI grounder from Renfroe.
“It’s special,” Nevin said of Neto’s first hit. “He had some good at-bats up into that point. Nothing fazes him. He gets it and feels like he belongs. And that’s half the battle.”
Ohtani’s second inning was delayed briefly by rain, as a heavy downpour forced Boston's grounds crew to try to dry the infield and mound. Ohtani also had a miscue with his PitchCom device that further delayed the inning.
But once it all settled, he was much more efficient in the second, and he relied heavily on his sweeper-slider. He got Triston Casas to fly out to center on a sweeper before striking out Kiké Hernandez looking on a sweeper and Reese McGuire swinging on a sweeper in the dirt.
“My stuff felt pretty good overall,” Ohtani said. “The fastball was good after two strikes. And I made some good sweepers pitches. I just yanked a couple pitches that allowed the runner to advance but other than that, I felt pretty good.”
But with Neto at the plate with two runners on and two out in the third, heavy rain came and this time the tarp was brought back onto the field. It led to an 85-minute delay that forced the Angels to replace Ohtani with Davidson. Ohtani didn't figure in the decision and now has a 0.86 ERA, while Davidson allowed one run and pitched into the sixth inning to pick up the win.
“I think just after the past few days, we needed to win badly,” Davidson said. “And for us to bear down and do it, a delay, another rain delay, I mean nobody really wanted that. We wanted to get to New York by six and have a nice dinner. But sometimes you gotta make do with what you're given and I think we did a good job of handling adversity and just going out there and continuing to play our game despite the conditions out there.”