Angels host A’s as Ohtani makes second pitching start

After helping the Los Angeles Angels win three straight games with his bat earlier in the week, Shohei Ohtani will get another chance to win a game with his arm when he takes the mound against the Oakland A’s in the finale of their three-game series at Angel Stadium on Sunday.

It will be the second start for the Japanese rookie, a highly sought offseason free agent who can pitch and hit at the major league level. He performed poorly in spring training but has exceeded expectations so far this season.

Los Angeles (6-3) had a chance for its best nine-game start in franchise history but lost 7-3 to the A’s on Saturday night to end their second three-game winning streak of the season.

Ohtani (1-0, 4.50 ERA) faced the A’s (4-6) in his pitching debut last Sunday, allowing three runs on a second-inning homer by third baseman Matt Chapman, but that was his only major mistake over six innings in the 7-4 victory.

Since then, Ohtani moved to designated hitter for games Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday at Angel Stadium and homered in all three in dramatic fashion.

His three-run blast in his first at-bat in front of the home crowd propelled the Angels to a 6-2 lead against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, and they eventually won 13-2 to end a 12-game losing streak against the Indians.

The following day, he hit a game-tying two-run homer off two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in the fifth inning, and the Angels went on to win 3-2 in 13 innings.

After an off day on Thursday, the Angels trailed 6-0 early against the A’s on Friday night, but Ohtani smashed a 449-foot solo home run to center field with two outs in the second inning to bring the crowd to life, and Los Angeles eventually came back to win their third game in a row, 12-9.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia stuck with his plan to keep Ohtani out of the lineup the day before and the day after he pitches, and Ohtani did not bat in the loss on Saturday night.

Kendall Graveman (0-1, 8.10 ERA) will make his third start of the season for Oakland. He started the season opener against the Angels on March 29 and went five innings, allowing five runs and seven hits, three of which left the yard.

Graveman did not get the decision as the A’s rallied to win 6-5 in 11 innings.

Kole Calhoun, Zack Cozart and Albert Pujols each homered off Graveman, who also went five innings in his most recent outing, allowing four runs and eight hits in a 4-1 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

“I saw some signs of good things and feel like I’m really close to putting it all together,” Graveman told the San Jose Mercury News after the game.

Pujols is 14-for-33 off Graveman with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Mike Trout is 10-for-30 with two home runs.

Graveman is 2-2 overall in his career against the Angels with a 4.33 ERA and 12 home runs surrendered in 68 2/3 innings.

Seth Manea is the only starter to make it through six innings for the A’s this season. Oakland used four relievers on Thursday, six on Friday and three more on Saturday.

“We’ve got to get six, seven, sometimes pitch into the eighth inning to save some of those guys’ arms early in the season,” Graveman said. “I think it’s just a couple of pitches that are getting the innings long. Eliminate those and we’ll get deeper into the ballgame.”