Last weekend, Shohei Ohtani reached a milestone when he belted career home run No. 100. On Wednesday night, the reigning American League Most Valuable Player will be making his presence felt on the mound.
Ohtani (3-2, 2.78 ERA) makes his seventh start of the season in the series finale with the host Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers will be going for the sweep with Dane Dunning (1-2, 4.06) on the mound.
The Angels will be looking for Ohtani to help salvage the series. On Tuesday night, Texas rallied with seven runs in the eighth inning and beat the Angels, 10-5.
Mike Trout was a triple shy of the cycle on Tuesday. His home run in the seventh inning put the Angels in front, 4-3. But Corey Seager, who had a home run in the first inning, doubled to open the eighth and the Rangers broke the game open.
Ohtani and Dunning met earlier this season, on April 14, also in Texas. The Rangers won 10-5 that day, with Dunning not involved in the decision. He worked 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs.
Ohtani was tagged with the loss, giving up six runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Since then, Ohtani has yielded three earned runs in his last four starts.
Ohtani has made news with his hitting this past week. On Saturday at Oakland, he connected on his 100th MLB home run, making him the third Japanese-born MLB player to reach the century milestone — joining Hideki Matsui (175) and Ichiro Suzuki (117).
“One hundred is a big number, and I’m proud of it,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “But it’s early in the season. I just want to keep it going. Early in my career, I went through a lot of injuries and surgeries, but I made it back strong, and I’m planning on hitting more and trying to get better.”
Dunning is coming off a loss to the Red Sox in his last start. In 5 2/3 innings, he allowed five earned runs.
This is a critical stretch of games for the Rangers against the top two teams in the AL West. The Angels and Houston Astros are neck-and-neck atop the division. After this home series wraps up, Texas heads to Houston for three games and will follow that up with a two-game set at the Angels.
“If you’re going to win the division, this stretch is important,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said.
Defensively, the Rangers have been stepping up, especially in the outfield, with center fielder Adolis Garcia, who seemingly makes highlight plays every game.
“It’s one of the best (defensive outfields) in the game, if not the best,” Woodward said on his pregame radio show. “It’s a huge plus for us, especially her with how much outfield there is to cover. It’s definitely an advantage for us.”
Angels’ first baseman Jared Walsh, a lefty batter, was not in the starting lineup on Tuesday night against Texas southpaw Taylor Hearn. He did replace Matt Duffy at first base in the eighth inning after Duffy was shaken up on a collision at first base with Garcia. Walsh struck out in the ninth, snapping his 26-game hit streak against the Rangers.
–Field Level Media