SEATTLE (AP) — Shut down from stepping on the mound, Shohei Ohtani needed one at-bat to show he’s still a threat in the batter’s box.
Ohtani homered in his first plate appearance since being shut down as a pitcher, Dylan Bundy struck out 10 in the third complete game of his career and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 6-1 on Thursday.
Ohtani drove a 1-0 pitch from Seattle starter Taijuan Walker to the opposite field just beyond the leap of left fielder Dee Gordon leading off the second inning. It was Ohtani’s third home run of the season, all coming against the Mariners. Ohtani homered twice last week at home against Seattle.
“I saw the best swing I’ve seen out of him in person and not just the home run,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He’s on the verge right now. I like a lot of what I saw today and I’m curious if he can keep this path going. He was very focused, very convicted in everything he was doing.”
The Angels shut down Ohtani’s arm for the rest of this truncated season after he strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow. His recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.
Walker felt he’d made a good pitch on the ball Ohtani hit out.
“I went back and looked at it. It was just middle, middle away, on the plate still. Good hitter,” Walker said. “I mean, it was a mistake pitch, 1-0, his count. I need to get that down a little lower.”
Max Stassi added a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his fourth of the season.
Bundy (2-1) has been superb since his offseason arrival from Baltimore via trade. The right-hander has pitched at least six innings in all three of his starts, with 25 strikeouts and two walks in 21 2/3 innings.
Bundy allowed four hits and picked up his 10th strikeout getting Kyle Seager leading off the ninth. His only mistake was an elevated changeup that Daniel Vogelbach lined into the right field seats for a solo home run in the fourth inning. Shed Long Jr. followed with a double, but Bundy escaped the threat and retired 17 of his final 18 batters.
“You don’t always know what to do as a starting pitcher it seems like after you get that last out,” Bundy said. “I was really wanting to get that last out and it happened to happen to work out that way today.”
It was the fifth complete game in baseball this season. Bundy lowered his ERA to 2.08. He’s the first Angels pitcher to throw a complete-game on the road with at least 10 strikeouts since Dan Haren against Seattle in 2012.
“I think a lot of times complete games could really alter the trajectory of starting pitchers,” Maddon said. “I love when they’re able to do that.”
Walker (1-2) lost command of his fastball in the fourth and failed to make it through the inning.
The home run to Ohtani was Walker’s only miscue through the first three innings, but he couldn’t spot his fastball in the fourth following Mike Trout’s leadoff single. Walker walked the next two batters, gave up Tommy La Stella’s RBI single and hit Justin Upton to force in a run.
Stassi added a sacrifice fly and Walker was finally lifted after issuing his third walk of the inning. Walker pitched seven innings of one-hit ball in his last start against Oakland.
“I feel like I kind of beat myself today, getting behind. Three walks in one innings, hit by pitch, that’s not going to get the job done,” Walker said. “But I felt good. I know what I did wrong. I know I can fix it and get ready for the next start.”
Both the Angels and Mariners trimmed two players from their roster ahead of Thursday’s finale. The Angels optioned RHP José Rodriguez and INF Matt Thaiss to the club’s alternate training site. Seattle optioned RHP Bryan Shaw and IF/OF José Marmolejos to its alternate training site. All teams had to reduce their rosters from 30 players to 28 on Thursday.
Angels: Rookie OF Jo Adell was out of the lineup due to a tight quadriceps muscle, Maddon said. Adell had a pair of infield singles in his first two games after being called up on Tuesday. Maddon said the Angels medical staff didn’t consider the soreness anything major.
Angels: RHP Griffin Canning (0-1, 3.38) makes his third start as the Angels open up a series against Texas. Canning threw six innings allowing one earned run in his last start against Houston.
Mariners: LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.66) gets the start Friday as Seattle begins a three-game interleague series with Colorado. Kikuchi was excellent his last start throwing six shutout innings with nine strikeouts against Oakland.
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