Ohtani exits early, Angels lose 5-3

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Shohei Ohtani exited Thursday night's game as a pitcher after throwing just 59 pitches across four scoreless innings.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Having already been removed from two games last week due to cramping, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani exited Thursday night’s game as a pitcher after throwing just 59 pitches across four scoreless innings. Dealing with lower body cramps last week, it was a finger cramp that forced Ohtani to leave the series opener vs. the Seattle Mariners as a pitcher. Ohtani remained in the game as a hitter, where he reached base all four times, stole a base, scored two runs, and blasted his MLB-leading 40th homer.

While cramps are not the type of injury that forces a player to miss extended time, it has now become a recurring issue for Ohtani, and forced him to exit a dominant start on Thursday night. When asked after the game about this development, Angels manager Phil Nevin said Ohtani explained the cramping in his finger, and said he wasn’t able to pitch anymore. Nevin added that he is encouraged Ohtani is not dealing with arm pain, and instead just a finger issue.

Ohtani also addressed the media after the game, and acknowledged that cramping is something he has been dealing with quite a bit over the last week. When asked if he anticipates missing a start because of this, Ohtani said that will be a collaborative decision with Nevin.

The Angels already have a small margin for error due to their position in the standings, but with so many key contributors sidelined due to injury, they certainly can’t afford to continue losing Ohtani at the plate or on the mound. That was evident again in Thursday night’s loss to the Mariners, as four scoreless innings and a dominant showing from Ohtani at the plate was not enough to take the series opener.

While Ohtani put the Angels in position to win, Carlos Estevez blew his first save of the season, surrendering a 9th inning grand slam that proved to be the deciding blow for Seattle. Speaking with reporters after the game, Estevez took accountability for walking the first two batters, but stood by his decision to throw an 0-2 fastball to Cade Marlowe. When asked why he opted for a fastball in that spot, Estevez said it’s what he has been having success with all year.

This was a very painful loss for the Angels, but they will look to bounce back on Friday.