Rangers ready to take second straight from Angels, Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani won’t get a chance to experience the playoffs in his first major league season, but he’s putting himself into solid contention for a big-time postseason award.
Ohtani, who began the season as a pitcher and designated hitter before elbow problems limited him to offensive duties for most of the past two months, has been stacking up exceptional numbers at the plate over the past six weeks and making a case for American League rookie of the year honors.
He’ll try to maintain his hot hand Tuesday night against the Texas Rangers at Angel Stadium.
Ohtani earned his second AL player of the week honor on Monday after going 9-for-19 with four home runs, a double, a triple and 10 RBIs in five games last week.
“I feel like I’m progressing as a hitter right now, so I’m trying to gain as many experiences as I can while the games count,” Ohtani told the Orange County Register on Friday.
He extended his hitting streak to eight games with a single and double in the series opener on Monday night, scoring a run and driving in another in the 5-2 loss to the Rangers, which snapped a four-game winning streak for the Angels (71-73).
Ohtani is hitting .373 in his past 29 games with 10 home runs, five doubles, 29 RBIs and 23 runs scored, raising his average from .267 to .294 in that span.
Overall, the Japanese star has 19 homers and 54 RBIs in 86 games.
The Rangers (62-82) meanwhile have been receiving solid play from rookie first baseman Ronald Guzman.
He came into Monday’s game with one hit in his past 12 at-bats, then hit a two-run homer in the second inning that gave the Rangers a 4-0 lead. It was Guzman’s 15th home run of the season.
Last month, Guzman became the first Texas rookie to hit three home runs in a game, and he’s also hit a grand slam this summer.
The Rangers are 10-3 when Guzman homers.
Rangers left-fielder Joey Gallo delivered a two-run double in the second inning on Monday and a run-scoring single in the eighth to raise his RBI total to a career-high 85. Already, he’s the first Texas player with at least 35 home runs in back-to-back seasons since Mark Teixeira in 2004-05.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced after Monday’s game that veteran relief pitcher Jim Johnson would make the start Tuesday, his first since his major league debut on July 26, 2006. Johnson (5-3, 3.81 ERA) has since made 666 relief appearances.
Sampson (0-0, 54.00) made his Rangers debut on Friday, allowing three runs (two earned) and four hits while retiring just one batter out of the bullpen in an 8-4 loss to the Oakland A’s.
“We’re at a point right now where we have some players we’d like to take a look at that we haven’t seen at this level,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Sampson, 26, made his only other major league start for the Seattle Mariners on Sept. 7, 2016, nearly getting through the fourth inning unscathed against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park before surrendering a two-out solo home run.
The 2012 fifth-round pick of the Pittsburgh Pirates ultimately left after allowing four runs and eight hits in 4 2/3 innings of the 6-2 loss.