ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani left the mound for his third straight Friday night with a sore finger.
With his Los Angeles Angels freefall and his future uncertain before the trade deadline, the two-way superstar is battling challenges far more difficult than the blisters and cracked fingernails preventing him from landing at his unique peak.
Ohtani allowed four earned runs in five hits just before Mauricio Dubon’s tiebreaking two-run single in the Houston Astros’ 7-5 win over the Angels.
Ohtani (7-5) was pulled after walking Corey Jules to open the sixth, consulting with the Angels’ coaching staff. Ohtani’s final start before the All-Star break ended with a blistered fingertip, and he also dealt with a cracked nail last month.
“For the most part, things didn’t go the way I wanted them to,” Ohtani said through his translator. “It was like that when I was on the mound. … I’m not thinking about when my next trip will be. “I’m going to come to the field, see where my finger is, and go from there.”
Ohtani said it’s “hard to say” how significant the injury will be.
“I get frustrated at a certain point,” Ohtani said. “I feel it’s not just me, it’s the whole team. I think it’s natural to get frustrated when we can’t win games.
Ohtani, who allowed three walks and struck out seven, remained a hitter in the game and delivered two singles at the plate, but his Angels lost a season-high six straight and 10 of 11.
“I thought something didn’t feel right in the sixth,” Angels manager Bill Nevin said. “After he walked (Julks) I saw something wasn’t right, so I wanted to look at him, and the finger was a little sensitive,” he said. Didn’t come open, didn’t break or anything like that, but decided it was better to get him out.
After receiving excitement and global attention during the All-Star festivities in Seattle, Ohtani returned to work in Anaheim amid loud questions about his future in Orange County. The Halos’ pre-break skid has diminished their playoff chances and raised the possibility that they will consider trading Ohtani, who will be a free agent this winter.
“It just seemed like he wasn’t really himself tonight,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of Ohtani. “I don’t know if that blister is still bothering him, but he wasn’t throwing some of the pitches he normally throws. If you get five runs off Ohtani, you did well. But he just wasn’t himself,” he said.
After Ohtani left, reliever Jacob Webb allowed DuPont’s clutch single and Jose Abreu’s RBI single. The Astros’ bullpen then hung on for a win over the defending World Series champions at the All-Star break, with Ryan Pressley fanning Ohtani in the ninth for his 21st save.
Mickey Moniak had three hits and Taylor Ward homered for the Angels, who retired Luis Rengifo in the fifth shortly after the third baseman made an error and then didn’t hustle to prevent Kyle Tucker from scoring in the second. Rengifo is pulled over after a confusing conversation with Nevin.
“Some things I’m not going to put up with,” Nevin said. “I don’t think he gave it his best effort. He knows what we’re talking about.”
Rengifo admitted his mistake after the game — as did Mike Moustakas, whose late-inning ball handling was poor before DuPont’s tiebreaking victory.
JP France had nine hits and two runs in the fifth game for Houston. Phil Matton (2-2) walked with two out in the fifth.
The Astros loaded the bases on a hit batter and tied it in the fourth on two walks from Ohtani. Alex Bregman and Tucker led off the top of the fifth with doubles.
Trey Cabbage made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter with two runners on in the eighth inning for the Angels. The 26-year-old infielder grounded into a forceout on his first pitch and was immediately pulled for a pinch-runner.
Stay at home
Left-hander Framer Valdez said he chose to stay home from the All-Star festivities in Seattle because Astros owner Jim Crane and general manager Dana Brown decided not to let him play. Through an interpreter, Valdez said he was “really not happy with that decision” to keep him out of the game, but he recharged with his family.
Astros: 2B Jose Altuve (slant left) hits some soft-throws into the batting cage. Michael Brantley hits the tee. He has yet to play this season after shoulder surgery.
Angels: Anthony Renton went on the injured list for the third time this season with a strained shin. The $245 million third baseman missed his 31st game with an injury. … OF Joe Adell (left oblique strain) and freshman RHP Sam Bachmann (right shoulder) are also on the injured list.
Valdez (7-6, 2.51 ERA) looks to improve his 9-4 career record against the Angels with the best ERA in the majors. Los Angeles counters with Reed Dedmers (2-6, 4.31 ERA), who has impressed more than his numbers suggest.