SEATTLE — While the Angels have been in a downward spiral for several weeks, it’s hard to place much blame on Shohei Ohtani.
The two-way star is the one who snapped the club’s 14-game losing streak with an impressive pitching performance and a three-run homer against the Red Sox on June 9, and he put an end to another skid for the Angels on Thursday. He threw six scoreless innings and extended his hitting streak to 11 games by going 2-for-4 at the plate, while fellow superstar Mike Trout hit a pair of two-run home runs to lift the Angels to a 4-1 win over the Mariners at T-Mobile Park.
It helped the Angels snap a three-game losing streak, as they entered the game having dropped 18 of 20, and it marked the first road win since May 15, snapping an 11-game road losing streak.
It was even more impressive considering Ohtani was in the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Dodgers, as he ended Tyler Anderson’s no-hit bid with a triple with one out in the ninth inning. Ohtani flew with the team after the game and, because of some travel issues leaving LAX, the Angels didn’t arrive at their team hotel in Seattle until around 4 a.m.
“What Shohei does is amazing,” said Angels interim manager Phil Nevin. “We got in around 4, 4:30, and at this time last night, he was circling the bases for a triple. So, for him to come out and do what he did tonight, it’s awesome.”
It helped that Trout carried the club’s scuffling offense. He has made it a habit to torment the Mariners, as he has hit 49 homers in his career against them, including 30 at T-Mobile Park. He ranks second all-time in career homers against Seattle, trailing only Rafael Palmeiro’s 52, while his 30 homers at T-Mobile Park is a record by an opposing player. But Trout said other than liking the backdrop at the ballpark, he’s not sure why he’s had so much success in Seattle.
“I don’t know, we play here a lot and I see the ball good, but I couldn’t tell you one particular thing,” Trout said. “But it’s good to get a ‘W.’ We got in late last night, so to watch Shohei do his thing and the bullpen close the door, it was a good win. Like I’ve said, nothing [Ohtani] does surprises me any more.”
Despite the late arrival, Ohtani didn’t show any signs of fatigue, as the reigning American League MVP scattered three hits and two walks while striking out six. He improved to 5-4 with a 3.28 ERA and 76 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings over 11 starts this year.
His velocity was a tick down from his season average, but he still touched 99 mph and was effective because he had his slider working. Ohtani threw his slider 38 times and registered five swings-and-misses with it, while he threw his fastball only 32 times. He seemed to have better command of his offspeed pitches than his fastball and only 55 of his 93 pitches went for strikes.
“Ideally, I would’ve liked to have to keep my pitch count low, especially early in the game, but for the most part I was comfortable with all my stuff,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I wish my [fastball command] was a little better, but I was still able to get foul balls when I left them over the plate, so in that sense I felt pretty good about it.”
Ohtani, though, didn’t run into much trouble, as the Mariners only had runners in scoring position against him once, and that came with two outs in the first inning. He walked Jesse Winker and allowed a bloop single to Eugenio Suárez before uncorking a wild pitch, but he got Cal Raleigh to ground out to first to end the frame.
He ended his outing with a strikeout of Raleigh and pumped his fist into his glove as he left the mound in the sixth. Given his workload and the travel challenges, the Angels were cautious with Ohtani and took him out after 93 pitches.
“He probably could’ve gone out for the seventh under normal circumstances,” Nevin said. “But my guys were fresh down there. I thought it was good to get him out there at 93. I wasn’t going to let him go much past 100.”