Shohei Ohtani is limited to hitting these days because of an elbow injury.
He remains quite the presence for the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani’s two-out walk helped set up a dramatic 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night in the opening game of the Freeway Series.
The Angels were down to their last strike in the ninth inning when Ohtani battled back from a 0-2 count all the way to a walk against Kenley Jansen (0-2). Ohtani then stole second and advanced to third on catcher Yasmani Grandal’s throwing error before David Fletcher hit a tying RBI single to left.
“I think it speaks to the threat Shohei is at the plate,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “(Jansen) is as good as there is at the back end of the game.”
It was Ohtani’s second stolen base of his rookie season. The two-way star has more time to practice other parts of the game while he is staying off the mound.
“I wasn’t absolutely going to go on the first pitch but for the hitter it’s easier to steal a base earlier in the count,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Ian Kinsler followed with another base hit, and Fletcher scored when Yasiel Puig’s throw skipped by Grandal for a game-ending error. Blake Parker (2-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.
“It was a great at-bat. (Ohtani) did what he needed to do,” Kinsler said. “The report on Kenley is that he loses track of runners or concentrates a lot on the hitter. You have an opportunity to steal against him. Shohei took second. It was huge. We got in scoring position and obviously the throw got away. He got himself in scoring position and that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
The 108 degree temperature set a record at first pitch for a game in Anaheim. The previous record was 106, which happened in 1988 and 2007.
The Dodgers wasted a solid start by Kenta Maeda, who struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings. They had won four in a row.
“For me it’s unacceptable at 0-2 to lose him there,” Jansen said. “I had him where I wanted to. I just feel I almost lost my feel on the fastball up in the zone. I couldn’t get it where I wanted to. That walk irritated me. I’ve got to keep my composure.”
Matt Kemp hit run-scoring singles in the fourth and sixth to help the Dodgers jump in front, but the Angels rallied in the sixth.
Kinsler and Jose Briceno opened the inning with singles. Kole Calhoun then struck out and Andrelton Simmons flied out before Mike Trout was walked intentionally, loading the bases.
Maeda then was called for a balk, allowing Kinsler to score. Justin Upton walked to load the bases again, and Scott Alexander struck out Albert Pujols to end the inning.
Angels starter Felix Pena, a converted reliever, allowed two runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Fletcher had faced Jansen once before in spring training. He struck out. This time he got the big hit.
“The experience was good. Obviously, when you see a pitcher more than once it can help you,” Fletcher said.
Maeda and Japanese countryman Ohtani faced each other for the first time in Major League Baseball. Ohtani was 0 for 2 with a strikeout and a groundout. Ohtani went 2 for 7 against Maeda when the two played professional baseball in Japan.
“He was on top of his game I felt like,” Ohtani said. “When the starting pitcher is pitching that well, to come back and win like that is big.”
Dodgers: LHP Tony Cingrani (left shoulder inflammation) threw a light bullpen of 20 to 25 pitches and then went to Arizona for more rehabilitation … RHP Walker Buehler (right rib micro fracture) threw a bullpen and will throw a five-inning simulated game Sunday morning.
Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling (6-2, 2.27 ERA) starts Saturday night. He allowed four earned runs in six innings in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over Colorado on Sunday. It was just the second time he allowed four runs in a start this season.
Angels: RHP Deck McGuire (0-1, 8.64 ERA) lasted just 3 1/3 innings against Baltimore in his last start.
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