There were no fancy records or flashy numbers. No momentum-changing hits or towering home runs. In Shohei Ohtani’s start against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday at Angel Stadium, the two-way star, compared with the usual expectation, was just another ace with a quality start, just another batter with a decent day at the plate.
Ohtani pitched six innings of two-hit, one-run, three-walk baseball, striking out nine in the Angels’ 4-2 win.
The Angels took two of three games against the Twins, the first-place team in the American League Central, for their first series victory since a three-game sweep of the Cardinals in St. Louis at the start of May.
“It’s obviously a great win, and we put up a good fight yesterday,” Ohtani said in Japanese through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, “and if we keep playing like this, then I think good things should be coming.”
Ohtani didn’t get the win, having departed with the score tied 1-1. It was the fourth no-decision for him this season, with the Angels having gone on to win three of those games. It was also a much-improved start compared with his last four, in which he gave up three or more runs in each.
“He’s got five wins, I know,” manager Phil Nevin said after the game. “He’s kept us in every game. I know he’s given up some runs and we’ve taken the lead, but he seems to have got to the finish line with us having that lead.”
Sunday’s victory went to Chris Devenski (2-0), who maneuvered out of an inherited bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning, taking over after Reyes Moronta.
Ohtani was still the star of the show, with just one play that could have potentially taken away his overall spotlight.
Left fielder Mickey Moniak tried to rob Alex Kirilloff of a home run in the top of the eighth, toppling over the left-field wall and into the seats attempting to make the catch. He got a piece of the baseball but was unable to keep it in his glove, resulting in a solo homer.
“That one’s gonna haunt me for a while. Probably the rest of my life,” Moniak said, half-jokingly.
Ohtani walked one batter in each of the first three innings, giving up his first hit and only run in the third — on an RBI double by Carlos Correa. He repeated a trend from earlier in the season, when he gave up a walk to the leadoff batter in each of first four starts but for the most part shut down the opposing team the remainder of his time out. It’s not a trend he likes.
“Not just the first batter of the game, but the leadoff hitter of the inning, I’ve been giving up walks here and there,” Ohtani said, “and that’s stressful for myself and the team. So I just need to try to get rid of that.”
Ohtani had his first one-two-three inning in the fourth, striking out two. He ended his start by striking out four consecutive batters.
At the plate, Ohtani went one for three, reaching base on a single, an intentional walk and a fielder’s choice. He was left stranded each time.
The Angels’ Jared Walsh collected his first hit since he returned from the injured list Saturday. His single in the fourth allowed Hunter Renfroe, who reached on a single, to move into scoring position at third. Gio Urshela’s sacrifice fly drove in Renfroe and tied the score at 1.
In the seventh, the Angels took the lead. Zach Neto and Moniak hit back-to-back doubles. Neto moved Matt Thaiss into scoring position at third, and Moniak’s hit drove in Thaiss and Neto to give the Angels a 3-1 lead.
The Angels extended their lead in the eighth when Thaiss drove in Urshela on an RBI double.
Carlos Estévez pitched the ninth, collecting his 12th save of the season.