Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, Giants’ Kevin Gausman face off

MLB

Shohei Ohtani will start on the mound for the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday afternoon when they host the San Francisco Giants in Anaheim, Calif.

Whether he is also in the lineup as a hitter is typically a question that is answered on game day, but it’s difficult to imagine that Ohtani’s bat would be excluded considering his recent hot stretch at the plate.

Despite going 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts in 5-0 loss to the Giants on Tuesday, Ohtani is hitting .280 (7-for-25) with a .400 on-base percentage, six homers and nine RBIs in his past seven games.

On the mound, Ohtani (3-1, 2.70 ERA) has lost only once in 10 starts and has allowed more than three runs in a game only once. He has 73 strikeouts in 53 1/3 innings and recently joined an exclusive club: He is one of four players in major league history to hit 70 home runs and record at least 100 strikeouts as a pitcher. The three others are Babe Ruth, Rick Ankiel and Johnny Lindell.

“Pretty incredible, right?” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s really fun to watch. He’s playing with so much confidence. He’s so talented and he’s playing with a ton of confidence on top of that pitch-wise, hitting-wise, baserunning-wise.”

Ohtani’s recent hot stretch also coincided with teams being able to allow full capacity of fans into ballparks. The last four games at Angel Stadium have helped fuel him, Ohtani said.

“It definitely felt good pitching in front of a lot of people,” he said through an interpreter. “It gives me energy and confidence on the mound and at the plate.”

Ohtani will be opposed on the mound by Giants right-hander Kevin Gausman (8-1, 1.51 ERA), who has been as consistently good as any pitcher in the National League this season.

Only once in his 14 starts has he allowed more than two runs in a game. He has pitched at least six innings in all but two games and has gone seven innings or longer five times.

While Ohtani’s performance so far this year has him in the conversation for American League MVP along with Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Gausman’s performance, according to Giants manager Gabe Kapler, should give him consideration to start the All-Star Game — though the honor likely will go to the New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom.

“deGrom is an animal, and I have the utmost respect for him,” Kapler said. “I’ve seen quite a bit of him, and I think he’s fantastic.

“Our guy gets my vote, obviously, because I see the work, day in and day out. I see the preparation, and I see the consistent performance and the ability to kind of put the rest of our team on his shoulders. I think he’s worthy of consideration, and obviously, I’d be behind that one thousand percent.”

Gausman, however, said deGrom deserves the start.

“I think his numbers kind of speak for themselves,” Gausman said. “He’s a guy that I think if he’s healthy and can keep doing what he’s doing, he’s absolutely going to start the All-Star Game. If he keeps giving up no runs every time he pitches, he’s going to start the All-Star Game.”

Gausman’s career numbers against the Angels are unimpressive: 3-3 with a 5.36 ERA in seven starts. Ohtani will be pitching against the Giants for the first time.

Angels left fielder Justin Upton likely will miss the Wednesday game after leaving the Tuesday contest due to lower back tightness.

–Field Level Media

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