Astros outlast Angels 6-5 in 11; Ohtani has arm discomfort

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Houston Astros' Alex Bregman, right, is congratulated by Michael Brantley after hitting a solo home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Houston Astros didn't even need to lift their bats from their shoulders to chase Shohei Ohtani from another wild performance in the second inning.

Almost four hours later, Ohtani provided another worry for Angels fans when the two-way star said he felt discomfort in his pitching arm after his first home mound start since returning from Tommy John surgery.

Alex Bregman hit an RBI single in the 11th inning, Blake Taylor escaped two bases-loaded jams to earn his first major league victory in his hometown stadium, and the Astros rallied for a 6-5 victory over Los Angeles on Sunday.

Before those two dramatic extra innings, Ohtani started the day by issuing five walks and getting only five outs before getting pulled from his second rough start of the season. Afterward, the Angels sent Ohtani to get an MRI on his pitching arm, raising concern for a player who has worked his way back diligently from elbow ligament replacement surgery in late 2018.

“That first inning was outstanding,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon, who apparently wasn't aware Ohtani was headed for an MRI during his postgame interview. “Velocity was up. He looked very comfortable. I saw some positive signs with him.”

Those positive signs won't mean much if Ohtani has another injury setback. Any sustained absence would be a double blow to the struggling Angels, who use Ohtani as their designated hitter on most days between his pitching starts.

After a strong eight-pitch first inning, Ohtani walked his first three batters of the second. He struck out Houston’s next two hitters, but walked Dustin Garneau and George Springer to force in runs.

Maddon pulled Ohtani after he had thrown 42 pitches in the second and his velocity flagged. Before the injury news, it looked like mild progress: Ohtani failed to get an out last weekend in Oakland while facing six batters in his first start since 2018.