The Houston Astros not only slugged their way past Los Angeles Angels ace Shohei Ohtani in a 6-2 victory on Friday, but the lineup made him labor -- particularly with two outs -- a development that could be construed as a positive down the line.
The teams play the third game of their four-game series on Saturday in Houston, with the Astros having won the opening two contests.
On Friday, the Astros strung together three consecutive two-out singles in the fourth inning and had three batters reach safely in succession with two outs in the fifth. Houston came up empty in the fourth, but Alex Bregman produced an RBI single in the fifth that stretched the lead to 3-0.
For the fifth successive inning, Ohtani retired the first two batters in the sixth. However, Chas McCormick stroked a two-out single and Corey Julks followed with a two-run home run as Houston pulled away.
"I think it was a matter of us fouling off pitches and him not making his pitches like he normally does," Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Ohtani, against whom the Astros fouled off 19 pitches. "If it was that easy, you'd just make everybody do it.
"Sometimes it's your night. This guy is one of the best around. He wasn't as sharp as we've seen him in the past."
Cristian Javier (6-1, 2.97 ERA) has the starting assignment for the Astros as they attempt to clinch the series on Saturday.
The right-hander has won each of his past four starts, including a 10-1 victory on Sunday against the Oakland Athletics when he allowed one run on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts over five innings. Javier has a 1.96 ERA during that four-game stretch with 24 strikeouts against seven walks in 23 innings.
Javier is 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA over nine career appearances (five starts) against the Angels. He earned a 5-4 victory over the Angels on May 10 after allowing two runs on three hits and one walk with a season-high 11 strikeouts over six innings.
Patrick Sandoval (3-4, 3.42 ERA) will make the start for the Angels on Saturday.
The left-hander absorbed the 2-0 loss against the Miami Marlins on Sunday, allowing two runs on eight hits and two walks with two strikeouts over six innings. Sandoval has surrendered two or fewer earned runs in seven of 10 starts this season.
Sandoval is 0-4 with a 7.55 ERA in eight career appearances (seven starts) against Houston, which selected him in the 11th round of the 2015 draft and traded him to the Angels in July 2018 in exchange for catcher Martin Maldonado.
In his most recent start against Houston, Sandoval did not factor into the decision on May 8 after allowing four earned runs on seven hits and no walks with two strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings.
For the second time in the series, the Angels failed to deliver at the plate on Friday, repeating their 2-for-12 effort with runners in scoring position from Thursday. After stranding 13 runners in the series opener, Los Angeles left eight runners on base on Friday.
"I feel like we're getting a lot of guys on, just missing that one big hit," Ohtani said. "We had a couple situations with runners on and couldn't come through. We have to come through with those big hits with runners on base."
--Field Level Media