The Angels looked to expand upon their success in yesterday’s game, but came up short this evening.
In the first inning nobody reached base except Jose Altuve. David Fletcher and Mike Trout both struck out. The Angels held the Astros scoreless.
In the second inning Jared Walsh reached on an error, but did not score. Upton struck out setting up Rojas to ground into a double play. Kyle Tucker reached on a two out walk, but also did not score.
In the third inning Taylor Ward reached on a single but was thrown out trying to steal. Phil Gosselin walked but Kurt Suzuki and David Fletcher were both out on fly balls to end the top of inning. Shohei Ohtani retired the Astros in order to end the third inning.
In the fourth inning the pitcher’s duel continued. The Angels went down in order with strikeouts by Ohtani and Walsh framing a Mike Trout groundout to Yuli Gurriel. Michael Brantley got a single on Ohtani’s first pitch this inning. Ohtani proceeded to strike out the next three batters ending the inning.
The Angels went down in order in the fifth inning, although at least Justin Upton and Jose Rojas made contact. Taylor Ward threw in a strikeout. When the Astros came up, Kyle Tucker ruined the scoreless game with a solo home run, but Ohtani retired the next three batters in a row.
The Angels struck out in order to start the sixth inning. Lance McCullers had nine strikeouts through six. Yordan Alvarez hit a two out infield single. Shohei Ohtani then struck out Yuli Gurriel to bring his strikeout total to nine through six innings. The score was still 1-0 Astros.
Shohei Ohtani singled to lead off the seventh inning. Mike Trout walked on five pitches to make it first and second with no outs for Jared Walsh who grounded into a 6-4-3 double play. Shohei Ohtani was at third base with two outs when Justin Upton hit into the third out. This was a very frustrating inning for the Angels. Nobody struck out and men got on base. Unfortunately, they could not drive in those runs. Ohtani came out in the seventh and retired the Astros in order, picking up his tenth strikeout. He had walked only one at this point.
In the eighth inning, Jose Rojas grounded out to Jose Altuve on the first pitch, Taylor Ward hit a homer on the second pitch to right center field, Phil Gosselin saw a number of pitches before also grounding out to Altuve, and finally Kurt Suzuki grounded out to Altuve to end the top of the frame. It was still a nail-biter, but at least Shohei was no longer on the hook for the loss. It was a 1-1 ball game.
The Angels brought in Aaron Slegers to pitch and put Ohtani in right field to keep his bat in the lineup. Martin Maldonado walked for the Astros. Jose Altuve hit a foul ball to right that a regular right fielder might have caught and eventually reached on a fielder’s choice (Maldonado was retired at second). Aledmys Diaz singled to right field to place runners at first and second with one out whereupon Aaron Slegers was pulled from the game and Alex Claudio got a chance. Michael Brantley singled on the fourth pitch he saw to drive in Altuve. The Angels caught Diaz in a rundown between third and home after a ball hit by Yordan Alvarez. There are now two outs, but the Astros go up 2-1. Naturally, Yuli Gurriel hit a 3 run home run to blow the game wide open. Buh bye, Claudio. Enter Noe Ramirez who proceeded to walk Carlos Correa and allow a hit to Kyle Tucker. Finally, Myles Straw lined out to Fletcher to end the inning. 5-1 Astros.
Coming up in the ninth were David Fletcher, Shohei Ohtani, and Mike Trout. Ryan Pressly replaced Lance McCullers on the mound. David Fletcher popped out to Jose Altuve. Shohei Ohtani struck out looking. Mike Trout hit a fly ball to center field for the final out of the game. This was clearly not the outcome we had hoped for.
Photo credit: Rex Fregosi