Tue, Sep 04, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Springer, Astros down Angels in Ohtani’s return

AP, HOUSTON, Texas

George Springer of the Houston Astros hits a two-run homer against the Los Angeles Angels in their American League game in Houston, Texas, on Sunday.

Photo: Erik Williams-USA Today

George Springer on Sunday knew something was different about Shohei Ohtani in his second at-bat against the Angels pitcher in the third inning.

“The velocity drop was probably the obvious,” Springer said. “He was throwing 98-99 and then came out throwing 88-92. When it’s that obvious I hope he’s OK.”

Springer hit a two-run homer and finished a triple shy of the cycle to lead the Houston Astros to a 4-2 win over Los Angeles in Ohtani’s return to the mound.

Ohtani (4-2) lasted just 2-1/3 innings in his first time pitching since June 6 because of an elbow strain. Both of the hits he allowed were to Springer — a leadoff single and his two-run shot in the third that made it 2-0.

Springer was right about something being wrong with Ohtani. After the game Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Ohtani was dealing with tightness in his back and a sore right ring finger after he deflected a ball off of it in the second inning, but Scioscia does not think either problem should cause him to miss more time.

“First two innings were electric. That’s what you expect,” Scioscia said. “Third inning obviously his stuff wasn’t as crisp ... there was definitely a drop of velocity, but not connected at all to the thing that he had with his elbow before. Hopefully, he has good workouts in between and [will] be ready to go next week.”

Alex Bregman finished with two hits and his solo homer in the seventh inning pushed the lead to 4-2.

Ohtani joined Babe Ruth as the only players in major league history to start 10 games as a pitcher and hit 10 homers in a single season.

The rookie, who has 15 homers, missed almost a month after he was injured before returning as the team’s designated hitter on July 3.

He threw 49 pitches, striking out two and walking two.

“I gave up that two-run shot so I failed to do my job as a starting pitcher,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “So, that’s a disappointment right there. Body-wise, I really can’t say much at this point. I will wait until [Monday] to see how my body reacts. As of now my body feels fine.”

Houston starter Gerrit Cole (13-5) allowed six hits and two runs in 5-2/3 innings for his third straight win after losing three in a row.

He struck out nine to move past teammate Justin Verlander (240) and into first place in the American League with 243 strikeouts.

Roberto Osuna pitched a perfect ninth for his 12th save.

After Springer’s single in the first, Ohtani walked Carlos Correa with two outs, but he struck out Tyler White to end the threat.

He pitched a 1-2-3 second inning before Tony Kemp drew a walk to start the third.

Springer then sent a slider into the Crawford Boxes in left field with two strikes for his first homer since Aug. 5.

“He’s been teetering on that a little bit over the last couple weeks and every hitter needs to feel a little bit of success no matter the work they’re putting in,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Springer. “So tonight he put it all together and really did a nice job at the top of the lineup.”

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