ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani has followed up his MVP performance in the World Baseball Classic with one of the best pitching starts of the modern era.
The Japanese two-way superstar turned in another gem on Tuesday night, allowing only one hit in seven innings as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Washington Nationals 2-0.
Ohtani walked four and struck out six. The right-hander has allowed only one run in his first three starts and has an 0.47 ERA.
According to Sportradar, Ohtani (2-0) is the 14th major league pitcher since 1901 to pitch at least 19 innings through his first three starts, allow one earned run or fewer and strike out at least six in each outing.
Tyler Glasnow of the Tampa Bay Rays and Joe Musgrove of the San Diego Padres were the last to accomplish it.
“If you look at the results on paper, they look great but I haven’t had too many 1-2-3 innings as much as I would want. If I get more that would help the offense get more momentum,” Ohtani said through his interpreter.
Other than pitching out of a two-out jam in the fourth inning, the only other issue Ohtani had during the game was when the umpires thought he might have had something suspicious under his sleeve. It turned out to be the PitchCom device that relayed signals from catcher Logan O’Hoppe.
“I thought his stuff was really good,” said O’Hoppe, who also hit his team-leading fourth home run of the season to help the Angels snap a two-game skid. “He was messing with the slider a little bit and changing speeds. His ability to change pitches or not change pitches, but make adjustments on pitches in the middle of the outing is what impresses me the most.”
Ohtani (2-0) set an Angels record with his 10th straight start allowing two or fewer runs. Nolan Ryan had a nine-game streak across the 1972-73 seasons.
Even though Ohtani had a big March, leading Japan to the WBC title, he said the start of this season hasn’t felt different.
Manager Phil Nevin said Ohtani won’t be in the lineup as the designated hitter Wednesday afternoon, but would be available to pinch hit. Ohtani’s next start will be Monday morning in Boston against the Red Sox.
“He has had a big workload early in the season. It will be good for him to get off his feet for a couple days,” Nevin said.
The Nationals, who came into the game leading the National League with 103 hits, were held to one hit for the first time since July 23, 2020, against the New York Mets. They had 14 in Monday night’s 6-4 win.
Jose Quijada retired the Nats in the eighth and Carlos Estévez allowed a one-out walk in the ninth before retiring the next two hitters for his first save.
“We kept him in the zone, worked the counts. A couple of guys hit the ball hard but we couldn’t get that one big hit,” said Washington manager Davey Martinez of Ohtani. “When he starts throwing around the zone and starts throwing those sliders and able to control his fastball it’s a tough at-bat.”
CJ Abrams was the only one to get a hit with a two-out double to right in the fourth inning. That put runners on second and third after Keibert Ruiz drew a walk earlier in the inning, but Michael Chavis grounded out to shortstop Gio Urshela to end the inning.
The Angels would break through for a run in the bottom of the fourth. Taylor Ward and Mike Trout were each hit by pitches by Josiah Gray (0-3) before Ohtani loaded the bases with a bloop single to left. Ward scored on Anthony Rendon’s sacrifice fly to right.
O’Hoppe connected on Gray’s cutter that was slightly elevated but down the middle for a solo shot to left to extend the Angels’ lead to 2-0.
Gray went 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs on four hits.
Nationals: IF/OF Ildemaro Vargas was placed on the 10-day injured list (retroactive to April 10) with a left shoulder strain. IF Jeter Downs was called up from Triple-A Rochester. … Martinez was back in the dugout after missing Monday’s game due to illness.
Angels: Rendon was back in the lineup after missing Monday’s game due to a shoulder soreness after getting hit by a pitch Sunday.
Washington left-hander MacKenzie Gore (2-0, 2.38 ERA) faces Angels righty Griffin Canning in the series finale. Canning will make his first big league appearance since July of 2021 after missing last season due to a back injury.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports