Those who tuned into the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels game on Sunday expecting the usual from living video game character Shohei Ohtani didn’t quite get what they expected in a 4-0 Tigers win.
Ohtani didn’t dazzle early on. In fact, he looked uncomfortable on the mound and at the plate for whatever reason. Riley Greene took him deep on the very first pitch he threw, and the home run wound up being the longest surrendered by Ohtani in his career so far. Things could have gotten a lot worse in the second if he hadn’t worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam, too.
Meanwhile, Eduardo Rodriguez looked sharp in his return to Detroit. He stranded two runners on base in the first after giving up a leadoff single and walking Ohtani, and then set the Angels down 1-2-3 in the second. Good defense bailed him out a few times, including one of Riley Greene’s signature diving catches in the third inning and a leaping catch at the wall in right field by Victor Reyes as the rain came down in the fourth.
Reyes also got it done in the bottom half of the inning on offense. Ohtani got the first two outs rather quickly, but he walked Akil Baddoo and Greene to extend the inning. Those free baserunners came back to haunt the Los Angeles starter when Reyes tripled to right field, scoring both men. Tigers lead, 3-0.
The Angels pulled Ohtani after the inning ended and pinch-hit Kurt Suzuki in the top of the fifth. Rodriguez finished his fifth inning of shutout work, which made him eligible for the win, and he gave Detroit fans some hope by out-dueling the most talked about player in baseball.
Overall, Rodriguez’s return has to be considered a success. He struck out five along the way and limited damage in a few dangerous situations. It’ll be interesting to see how he does once he’s allowed to go deeper in a game, but this was the guy the Tigers paid for in the offseason. It’s too bad he was out of action for most of the season...
Jimmy Herget replaced Ohtani in the fifth and immediately gave up more runs. Once again, the Tigers gave up the first two outs in a hurry but put something together after getting a free bag. Willi Castro took a breaking ball to the thigh as he checked his swing, and Kody Clemens slapped a double to right to drive him in. 4-0, Detroit.
Will Vest didn’t struggle nearly as much as his opponent in the sixth. The only baserunner he allowed was Jo Adell, who avoided a third strikeout on the day by nicking Tucker Barnhart’s glove on a swinging strike three to draw a catcher’s interference call. Greene doubled in the home half of the sixth to give the Tigers a runner in scoring position with one out, but he got doubled up on a Victor Reyes fly ball to right field that he tried advancing on.
Jason Foley cruised through the seventh inning in relief of Vest. Mike Trout hit a harmless, two-out single, and the Tigers went down in order for the first time on the day. Kudos to Los Angeles’ Andrew Wantz for doing what Ohtani couldn’t (heavy sarcasm intended).
Andrew Chafin continued the pattern of Tigers relievers giving up a hit and getting out of the inning unscathed. This time it was a triple from Adell that was wasted when Chafin got Jared Walsh to stare at a nasty slider for strike three. Jesse Chavez pitched the bottom of the eighth for Los Angeles and became the second Angel of the day to get the Tigers to go down 1-2-3.
It came down to Detroit’s closer, Gregory Soto, to get the job finished, and, thankfully, he didn’t blow it. Max Stassi reached on an error that ate up Willi Castro in the shift, but Andrew Velasquez struck out and David Fletcher grounded into a double play to end it.
It turns out that Shohei Ohtani was dealing with a stomach bug, which explains both his uncomfortable looks and early exit. That does put an asterisk on the win in some ways for Detroit, but every win is a big one in a season of terrible baseball like the one the Tigers have put together.
Plus, we like Dr. Johnny Kane M.D.’s analysis better:
I do believe Tigeritis is the unofficial term. Extremely rare but potent. https://t.co/If20EqlFVE— Johnny Kane (@JohnnyKaneTV) August 21, 2022
Detroit has a day off on Monday before hosting the San Francisco Giants for a two-game series.