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OC Register: Shohei Ohtani strikes out 11 as Angels shut out Royals


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ANAHEIM — The Angels got the exact voltage they were looking for Friday night from a revamped battery, with Shohei Ohtani and Chad Wallach proving to be a formidable combination.

Ohtani was back on the mound quickly after a rain-shortened start earlier this week and carried the Angels to a 2-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals in the opener of a three-game weekend series and a seven-game homestand.

Wallach, who was making his 2023 Angels debut, guided Ohtani from behind the plate and added a two-run home run on a night when Mike Trout was given a rest after an East Coast road trip to Boston and New York.

Ohtani’s pitching was plenty to make up for Trout’s missing offense. Ohtani (3-0) had a season-high 11 strikeouts and gave up two hits over seven scoreless innings to extend his franchise record to 12 consecutive starts of two earned runs or less. It was his third scoreless outing of at least six innings this season as he lowered his ERA from 0.86 to 0.64 – the lowest in franchise history through a pitcher’s first five starts.

He went just four innings and threw 31 pitches Monday at Boston when a long rain delay put an end to his outing. He returned on three days of rest instead of his typical five days’ rest, as has been the pattern this season.

Adding a curveball and more cut fastballs to his repertoire on Friday, Ohtani not only baffled a Royals offense that has been overwhelmed all season, but he also added more to the scouting report for his next foe to consider. Kansas City (4-16) entered last in baseball with a .587 OPS and has now lost seven games in a row.

If there has been a knock on the days Ohtani takes the mound, it is that his command has been lacking at times. Even that showed improvement Friday as he gave up two walks but did not give up a free pass to his first batter of the game for the first time in five starts this season.

Ohtani entered with 3.3 walks per game over his first four starts, including five against the Washington Nationals the last time he pitched at home.

Instead, Ohtani struck out the side in the first inning and had one more strikeout in the second, while dispatching the first six batters he faced. After issuing a leadoff walk in the sixth, Ohtani struck out his final six batters to secure his MLB-best 12th double-digit strikeout game since the start of 2022.

The Royals got their first hit when Edward Olivares singled to left field to open the third inning. Even then Ohtani was able to show his sharp baseball IQ when Nicky Lopez followed with a sharply hit comebacker. Instead of fielding the ball, Ohtani let it pass through the infield where rookie shortstop Zach Neto picked it up, stepped on second base and finished off the double play with a throw to first.

Neto even helped on offense in the most painful of ways. He was hit by a Ryan Yarbrough pitch and scored when Wallach lifted a ball 424 feet beyond the wall in left-center field. Neto was hit again by Yarbrough in the fifth inning marking the fifth time he has been hit by a pitch in seven career games.

Wallach’s home run was the fifth of his career in 91 games over parts of seven major league seasons. He had one in 12 games with the Angels last season. He was called up earlier Friday when rookie catcher Logan O’Hoppe (shoulder) went on the injured list.

While Ohtani was dominating from the mound, he was less productive at the plate, striking out swinging in the first inning, lining out to center to end the third and grounding into a double play in the sixth. He finally reached out and flipped a single to center field in the eighth.

Carlos Estévez and Jose Quijada completed a three-hit shutout, with Quijada giving up a one-out single to Bobby Witt Jr. before finishing his fourth save in front of Angel Stadium’s third sellout crowd of the season.

More to come on this story.

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2 hours ago, AngelsWin.com said:

Neto even helped on offense in the most painful of ways. He was hit by a Ryan Yarbrough pitch and scored when Wallach lifted a ball 424 feet beyond the wall in left-center field. Neto was hit again by Yarbrough in the fifth inning marking the fifth time he has been hit by a pitch in seven career games.

Mag-Neto

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