Angels star Shohei Ohtani returns to mound vs. Rangers

MLB Baseball

Shohei Ohtani is scheduled to make his second start of the season on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels Tuesday against the Texas Rangers in Anaheim, Calif.

Ohtani has been in the Angels’ lineup regularly as a hitter, but not as a pitcher since April 4 because of a blister on his finger. In his one start, he allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits in 4 2/3 innings against the White Sox. He struck out seven but also walked five.

Ohtani also batted in that game and homered in his first at-bat. But he’s not expected to be in the lineup as the DH Tuesday.

“With the uncertainty, I’m not going to hit him tomorrow, just in case something goes awry early and then we’d have to scramble the rest of the night with a short bench,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said.

Ohtani, who has never faced the Rangers as a pitcher, has been among the Angels’ best hitters this year, tied for the team lead with four homers, second on the team with 12 RBIs (Jared Walsh has 13) and third on the team with an OPS of 1.000 (behind Mike Trout and Walsh).

Ohtani made 92 pitches in his first start, but because he hasn’t pitched in 16 days, his pitch count will be limited. He had three bullpen sessions in the past week with no blister issues, but Maddon will keep a close eye on him.

“He’ll be at that 75-pitch mark but you have to watch and see with that blister,” Maddon said. “You just have to pay attention. Could be more, could be less. He’s feeling pretty good.”

Right-hander Jordan Lyles will start on the mound for the Rangers, already having matched his win total from last season. Lyles went 1-6 with a 7.02 ERA in 12 games (nine starts) in 2020, but made offseason adjustments that have paid off.

“I can’t go back and change last year,” Lyles said. “I made some adjustments this offseason. I got into a little bit more the numbers side of the game and pitch design. I scrapped a couple pitches and added a couple of different pitches. I just want to keep moving forward and not harp on the terrible, awful season that was last year.”

In his three starts, he’s 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA and has pitched into the sixth inning twice. He hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his starts, and the Rangers have won two of three games in which Lyles pitched. He’s 3-1 with a 5.40 ERA in six career games (five starts) against Los Angeles.

The Rangers are hoping first baseman Nate Lowe’s walk-off RBI single in the 10th inning Sunday against Baltimore is the spark that gets the first baseman going offensively.

Lowe had eight hits in his first 21 at-bats this season, but has slumped since, with just eight hits in his last 44 at-bats, including going 2-for-4 in Monday’s 6-4 win over the Angels.

“One thing that Nate’s really good at is he doesn’t really seem to be bothered if he’s 0-for-3 or if he’s struck out a couple of times,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “He just has quality at-bats.”

–Field Level Media

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