Shohei Ohtani hampered by shaky command again as Angels edge Mariners | Englishheadline


Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani delivers a pitch during the first inning of a 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium on Friday night. Ohtani is struggling to replicate his 2022 form on the mound. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani has not felt like the 2022 pitching version of himself this season.

On Friday night the two-way star wasn’t as dominant on the mound as he has been, giving up three earned runs over five innings in the Angels’ 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium.

The Angels, who have won five in a row, also found themselves worried about the health of rookie fireballer Ben Joyce, who departed his relief outing after only five pitches.

“I didn’t feel really good today,” Ohtani said in Japanese through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “Up to this point, I haven’t really felt like I did last year when I was really good on the mound. But today, especially, I didn’t feel as good.”

Ohtani’s start on Friday, in which he also gave up three hits, walked five batters and struck out six over 97 pitches, reflected a pattern this season in which he has looked closer to average.

In his first five starts of the season, Ohtani was so good that he seemed a lock to be a no-doubt Cy Young candidate. Those first five starts (one shortened to two innings because of rain in Boston) netted him a 0.64 ERA. In his last eight starts, however, his ERA is 5.06.

This year, the right-hander is pitching more games due to the schedule the team worked out with him going into 2023. On a pitch-by-pitch basis, he’s also working in a more condensed way because of the pitch clock.

Ohtani said that could be affecting how tired he gets but overall he feels healthy.

Shohei Ohtani follows through on a two-run home run during the Angels' 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.

Shohei Ohtani follows through on a two-run home run during the Angels’ 5-4 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night at Angel Stadium. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

“Like you said, I’ve been pitching more often compared to the last couple of years, last two years,” Ohtani said, “and there are times where I feel a little more fatigued maybe because of that.

“But for the most part, I feel pretty good and healthy right now and the goal is to stay healthy to the end of the season.”

Ohtani was given an extra day of rest, his usual turn through the rotation getting pushed back to Friday after a poor outing in Houston and because the Angels have had only six days off in 65 games. Ohtani said he did not feel the effects of the additional day off.

Ohtani walked his first batter, needing 31 pitches to get through the first inning. He also gave up a two-run home run to Jarred Kelenic, which prompted an early chat with pitching coach Matt Wise.

The second inning flowed much smoother, as Ohtani retired the side in order on a strikeout, groundout and popup. And he helped keep the Mariners from scoring again until the fifth inning, when Ty France singled home Jose Caballero.

Ohtani’s command, however, appeared shaky through Friday’s game, with at least three pitches going high and inside to three different batters. One of those pitches hit Julio Rodríguez in the shoulder in the fifth inning.

“I feel like it’s the way I’m moving my body,” Ohtani said. “I feel like I’m being less efficient with how I’m moving my body down the mound.”

At the plate, he went three for four, falling just a triple short of a the cycle and hitting a 440-foot, two-run blast into the right-center-field seats.

Ben Joyce leaves game

Joyce replaced Ohtani to start the sixth inning but lasted only five pitches before leaving with what the team initially called right hand irritation.

Joyce said after the game that it was after one pitch in the middle of the five that he felt tingling and numbness in his hand and forearm.

Manager Phil Nevin said that it’s usually not a good thing when a pitcher gets pulled the way Joyce did, but that the team was waiting for him to be further evaluated to determine the extent of his injury.

Joyce said the last time he had some kind of tingling sensation in his hand, he ended up needing Tommy John surgery. He said he couldn’t tell exactly whether this feeling was like the previous one.

“I’m just gonna wait and kinda see how that goes,” Joyce said. “I’m not gonna jump to any conclusions or anything. Just see how the tests go and know more from there.”

During the game, Wise jogged out to the mound after Joyce walked Teoscar Hernández, the only batter he faced. Then the infielders, Nevin and an athletic trainer also gathered around Joyce.

Wise walked back to the dugout and soon after, Joyce walked off with the trainer, his head down. Jacob Webb came on in relief.

Injury update

Veteran reliever Matt Moore (Grade 2 right oblique strain) could start throwing this weekend, Nevin said before the game. He will be evaluated again before that happens and the Angels will then create a throwing program.

Moore, a left-hander, went on the injured list on May 28 retroactive to May 25, his oblique injury cropping up while playing catch before a game against the Miami Marlins. He was shut down from throwing after that.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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