But a strong performance from Lance McCullers Jr. combined with a late Houston attacking surge prevented the Angels and their two-way star from securing a victory.
Ohtani struck out 10 in an impressive duel with McCullers, and the Astros pulled away against the Angels’ box to beat the Angels 5-1.
Ohtani allowed one run and four hits with a walk in seven innings, resolving his control issues in his longest start to the season.
“Seeing Shohei find command of the fastpitch is what it’s going to be like most of the time,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He looked spectacular. It wasn’t overloaded with sliders and separators. He challenged with fast balls. I think all his talents were on display tonight. “
Ohtani has come out with a 2.10 ERA this season, then moved to play on the right court, and Yuli Gurriel scored in Houston’s eighth of four points.
Ohtani hit second and went 1 for 4, hitting twice.
“My body was a little heavy, a little slow, but I think it worked the best for my performance today,” he said through a translator. “Since my body was a bit heavy, my mechanics that I felt was very efficient. No lost movement. “
McCullers (3-1) produced three hits, including a Taylor Ward homer, while tying a season-high with nine strikeouts in eight innings, his longest start this season. He walked two.
It was the first time he had pitched eight or more innings since July 22, 2016 against the Angels. McCullers loved the energy in the ballpark as he and Ohtani paired up for the innings.
“You can feel it,” McCullers said. “I apparently know people don’t like pitching matches, but I thought tonight was a pretty fun game. “
Angels reliever Aaron Slegers (2-1) walked Martin Maldonado to start the eighth and Aledmys Diaz chose with one out. Alex Claudio took over and was greeted with an RBI single by Michael Brantley who put Houston on top 2-1.
Gurriel had a home run with two strikeouts.
Ohtani’s appearance in right field marked the second time in his MLB career that he has played a position other than pitcher. He played on left court for one set on his last trip to Houston this season.
Maddon asked him if he was okay with the move to the pitch after he finished pitching and the 26-year-old didn’t hesitate before agreeing.
“I had a lot of fun,” Ohtani said. “It was a close game and I figured my share of the batting order was coming in the ninth inning. I was all for it. “
It was the third time this season that he had hit the same day he pitched, making him the first player in MLB history to do so in three games where a designated hitter was available, overtaking Ken Brett, who did it twice in 1976 for the White Sox.
“He’s the best I’ve seen him throw,” said Houston manager Dusty Baker. “He was 95-99 (mph) and he was dotting that fastball low and far. And boy, he’s an athlete to do that and go play on the right court and get a shot too. “
Ohtani had allowed just two singles when Tucker opened Houston’s fifth with his solo shot to seats in left field to put the Astros ahead 1-0.
McCullers had given up just one hit and retired 11 in a row when Ohtani chose to start the seventh. Mike Trout walked after that, but Jared Walsh froze in a double play before Justin Upton stepped down to end the threat.
There was a strikeout in the eighth as Ward moved to the third row of seats in right field to tie 1-all.
Angels: 3B Anthony Rendon, who has been on the injured list since May 3 with a bruise on his left knee, said Tuesday night he was feeling “pretty well” but was unsure when he would return. Manager Joe Maddon is hopeful Rendon can return during this weekend’s Boston series. … RHP Junior Guerra was placed on the 10-day injured list on Tuesday with a strained right groin.
Astros: RHP Jake Odorizzi is expected to kick off a live batting practice on Wednesday. He has been on the injured list since April 24 with a strained muscle in his right arm. … LHP Framber Valdez, who has been out since his left ring finger fractured on March 2, is expected to launch a paddock in Houston this week before starting a minor league rehab mission.
Los Angeles southpaw Andrew Heaney (1-2, 4.11 ERA) takes on Jose Urquidy (3-2, 3.51) when the series ends Wednesday night.