Fernando Romero of the Minnesota Twins and Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels have been impressive in their rookie seasons and Sunday afternoon, the 23-year-old right-handers will be matched up in the finale of a four-game series at Angel Stadium.
Romero (2-0, 0.00 ERA) has made two starts since the Twins (17-18) recalled him from Triple-A Rochester two weeks ago and hasn’t allowed a run in 11 2/3 innings. His fastball averages 98 mph and his slider has sharp action, helping him accumulate 14 strikeouts.
Romero didn’t allow a run over eight innings during spring training either.
He made his major league debut against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays on May 2 and threw 5 2/3 shutout innings in the 4-0 victory. Romero came back five days later and blanked the St. Louis Cardinals over six innings, and the bullpen again followed suit in the 6-0 win.
If he can throw six additional shutout innings before allowing a run, Romero would set a club record for the most scoreless innings to start a career.
“I’ll be ready to face batters,” Romero told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “I’ve got no excuse to not go forward. I can’t wait for the day to get here.”
Ohtani (3-1, 4.10) will make his sixth start for the Angels (23-16) and third at Angel Stadium.
He bounced back from two sub-par performances by allowing two runs and six hits over six innings in an 8-2 victory at the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. Seattle manager Scott Servais was impressed by Ohtani.
“He was about what I expected,” Servais told reporters after the game. “The fastball has velocity. There were certain stretches he was commanding it better than others. The secondary pitches are real. The curveball and slider and split-finger all have depth and are hard. He’s very poised.”
While Romero is still mostly unknown across the league, Ohtani has been on the radar since signing with the Angels in the offseason. Ohtani’s popularity has been fueled because he’s also a skilled hitter. He’s been successful at the plate at the major league level, although he doesn’t bat when he pitches.
“It’s going to be good just to see two young guys go at it,” Twins outfielder Robbie Grossman told the Star Tribune. “The little we saw of Romero in spring training was exciting, and it is exciting to have him up here and for him to contribute like he has. Ohtani, it’s his first year in the league, and it is exciting to see new guys.”
The Angels will be looking to split the series after dropping the past two games.
They took a 4-2 lead into the ninth Friday night, but couldn’t close the door and lost 5-4.
They had several opportunities to put the Twins away Saturday night, but lost 5-3 in 12 innings. The Angels were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position while losing to Minnesota for the 11th time in the past 16 games.
Angels first baseman/designated hitter Albert Pujols extended his hitting streak to eight games. He is 10-for-33 with seven RBIs and five runs scored during the run. His career long is 30 in 2003.