Ohtani struggles as Angels lose, 6-2, to the Houston Astros

Shohei Ohtani gives up 5 runs as the Angels lose second straight in Houston.

If it sounds familiar to you, trust me, you’re not dreaming. The Angels drop another game to the Astros, but more so in the same fashion as last night. The bats once again faded, and their ace didn’t have his best stuff, as Houston jumped all over Ohtani’s lethal sweeper. Another opportunity to climb up the American League West standings goes moot, while the Astros continue their winning ways, now having won 17 of their last 22 games and the defending champions are looking like a contender again in the American League. Angel fans were excited for this matchup, not just because their best pitcher was on the mound, but it was an opportunity to prove themselves against a formidable opponent and one of the best pitchers in the league in Framber Valdez. However, the offense sputtered (other than Taylor Ward, who went 3-4 tonight) and Shohei Ohtani struggled on both sides of his prolific talent.

Here are my three takeaways from the game:

Are teams figuring out Shohei Ohtani?

A lot was made of Shohei Ohtani after his insane performances in the World Baseball Classic, both offensively and on the mound. While his hitting certainly still looks elite, hitting .262 with a .352 OBP and 15 home runs, it seems his dominance on the mound isn’t what it was both late last year and in the WBC. He currently boasts a 3.30 ERA, which isn’t bad at all in the gist of things, but what’s more worrying is that Shohei has already given up 10 home runs already as opposed to 14 all of last year. Not just that, but opposing batters were hitting .143 off his “sweeper.” Tonight the Astros got a few runs early off that same pitch and spat on it for a majority of the game. Have teams figured out Shohei? Probably not, but it is a bit concerning that good lineups are hitting him around.

Another injury added to the Angels list

Zach Neto left tonight’s game with foot soreness after a groundout in the 6th inning. Although he came out for the next half inning on defense, Neto ultimately had to be removed due to pain in that foot. The Angels are hoping it is nothing serious, and he will get tests done to confirm that. Another injury to this Angels team would be devastating, as young star catcher Logan O’Hoppe is already out for a majority of the season with a major shoulder injury and Anthony Rendon has already missed time this year. As a Los Angeles Clipper fan, I can attest to having a super talented team not fulfilling their full potential due to injury, and I would not want to see that with this team. They have talent, and hopefully they turn the corner with injury luck.

The Offense doesn’t come through again 

Do I sound like a broken record? The Angels were 2-12 with RISP yet again tonight and although there were a few rallies in the 2nd and 4th innings respectively that could’ve tied or even put the Angels ahead. Granted, they did face Framber Valdez, one of the best pitchers in all of baseball tonight, but a combined 0 hit game from both Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout never bodes well for a lineup that needs them to be superstars. The Angels scraped together a few runs in the 8th, but ultimately it wasn’t close to enough. A bright spot was Brandon Drury and Taylor Ward putting up multi-hit games, but it never amounted to anything against the Astros pitching tonight.

The Angels will send Patrick Sandoval out to the mound to face Cristian Javier tomorrow as the Angels take on the Astros in the 3rd game of this 4 game series. First pitch is set for 1:10 PST.