Shohei Ohtani joins (more) elite company in Angels’ win – Press Enterprise

ANAHEIM ― When comparing Shohei Ohtani’s accomplishments to others in baseball history, the words “elite company” have become redundant. Elite company is increasingly the only kind of company he keeps.

Consider what Ohtani accomplished Wednesday in the Angels’ 7-1 victory over the Houston Astros.

• He became the second pitcher in Angels history to record 10 or more strikeouts in four consecutive pitching appearances. The first was Nolan Ryan, baseball’s all-time strikeout leader, who once struck out 10 batters in a franchise-record seven consecutive games.

• He became the sixth player to have at least 45 strikeouts and one or fewer earned run over a four-game span since earned runs became an official statistic in 1913. The others: Jacob deGrom, Randy Johnson, Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martinez and Chris Sale.

• He became the fourth pitcher all-time to go 6-0 with 58 or more strikeouts and two or fewer earned runs in a six-game span, joining Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey and Kershaw.

• Ohtani also became the first Angels pitcher to start a game and hit a triple since Ryan on June 27, 1972.

Almost three months remain in the regular season, but many in Wednesday’s announced crowd of 27,803 at Angel Stadium were proclaiming Ohtani the American League MVP, one letter at a time. He went 2 for 4 with two RBIs from the leadoff spot as a hitter and allowed one run in six innings on the mound while striking out 12. The Angels (39-50), in a rare role reversal, never trailed the Astros (57-30).

“(Ohtani) understands how important his (pitching) day is. I’ve said the last three, four times: he puts the team on his back,” Manager Phil Nevin said. “Today was a big one for the guys in there. It’s really impressive. I almost made a joke there – ‘he gave up a run today’ – but it’s impressive. It really is.”

Ohtani has not lost a start since a June 2 game in New York against the Yankees. He’s 9-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 15 starts overall and is responsible for each of the Angels’ last three wins. They had been mired in a five-game losing streak that began after Ohtani’s last start.

“I feel like the last six games that I’ve pitched, the offense has been good,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “Good situations for me.”

Ohtani’s value to the Angels rests not only on his two-way prowess but his ability to turn an otherwise mediocre lineup into, well, elite company.

Since May 25, when the Angels’ record reached its high-water mark at 27-17, no team has scored fewer runs or struck out more. They struck out plenty Wednesday – 17 of their 24 outs came via strikeout, and the 32 strikeouts between both teams set an American League record for a nine-inning game.

The Angels atoned with a pair of big innings, winning in relatively easy fashion.

In the third inning, Jonathan Villar drew a one-out walk and went to third base on a well-executed hit and run by Max Stassi, who singled. Brandon Marsh dropped a bunt down the third-base line that stayed fair with a clockwise twist. Villar scored on the safety squeeze and Marsh was credited with a single.

With two outs, Ohtani belted a triple into the right-field corner, scoring Stassi and Marsh and giving himself a comfortable 3-0 lead.

Houston got its only run against Ohtani in the fourth inning, on an RBI single by Yuli Gurriel that dropped lazily in front of Jo Adell in right field. It was the first run Ohtani had allowed in 31⅔ innings.

The Angels scored four runs in the sixth inning against the Astros’ bullpen to put the game away.

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