Arlington, Texas – Two-way star Shohei Ohtani was stung for six runs over 3⅔ innings Thursday as he started his pitching season with two straight defeats and the Los Angeles Angels lost 10-5 against the Texas Rangers.
Ohtani (0-2), the reigning American League MVP, was given a two-run first-inning lead but allowed two singles and a walk in the second before Jonah Heim homered down the right-field line at Globe Life Field for a grand slam, connecting on a hanging 0-2 split-fingered fastball.
“I blew that. He hit that mistake on the button,” said Ohtani, who had not previously surrendered a grand slam or a home run off his splitter in MLB.
Heim singled in another in the fourth after Willie Calhoun opened the frame with a double. Ohtani left the mound with two outs and a runner on, and reliever Brian Moran surrendered a two-run homer to Corey Seager.
“There must be a reason why my pitches are moving differently than they usually do. I think I can fix it,” said Ohtani, who was on a 90-pitch limit for the day but threw just 70.
As was the case on Opening Day, Ohtani remained in the leadoff as designated hitter after getting the hook, thanks to the “Ohtani Rule” introduced this year.
Ohtani, who batted .257 with 46 homers last year, has not yet found his rhythm at the plate either this year. He is currently batting .172. His 30 at-bats without a home run is his slowest start yet in MLB, although he doubled and scored in the ninth to finish 1-for-4 with a walk.
“I’m a bit late in the preparation for my swing. I want to be better prepared so I can swing aggressively,” said Ohtani, who struck out looking at high fastballs in the first and seventh.
Ohtani, who was among MLB’s best at driving balls at the proper angle and velocity for home runs last season, said he has not missed much on those he has hit this year.
“There are at-bats where I’m achieving the proper launch angle. I think my trajectories are off by just a tiny bit,” he said.
Meanwhile, Seiya Suzuki is enjoying a great start to his MLB career, driving in a run for the fifth straight game to help the Chicago Cubs beat the Colorado Rockies 5-2.
Batting fifth, the former Hiroshima Carp slugger doubled to left-center field in the first to plate the team’s third run at Coors Field and went 1-for-4.
“It’s frustrating, but I’m learning day by day,” Suzuki said of being held to one hit. “I’m sensing a lot of different things as I play. If I’m able to make use of that in the next game, so much the better.”
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo had his first hit in four games during the Pittsburgh Pirates’ 9-4 win over the Washington Nationals.
Tsutsugo walked, singled, scored a run and drove in one. His sixth-inning sacrifice fly gave the Pirates a 7-4 lead.
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