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MLB: Angels’ Shohei Ohtani makes first start of second half vs. A’s

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Right-hander Shohei Ohtani will make his first start of the second half at the same site as the first start of his Major League Baseball career when he gets the ball for the visiting Los Angeles Angels in the opener of a two-game series against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

Lefty Cole Irvin (6-8, 3.65 ERA) is scheduled to pitch for the A’s, who are coming off back-to-back losses and now find themselves challenged by both the Seattle Mariners and Angels for second place in the American League West.

The Angels lost two of three at home to the surging Mariners following the All-Star break, games in which Ohtani, the All-Star Game starting pitcher, focused on hitting.

The AL leadoff man in the midseason showcase last Tuesday after having participated in the Home Run Derby the night before, Ohtani homered for the first time in 15 post-break plate appearances off Seattle’s Paul Sewald in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 7-4 loss.

Ohtani had been 2-for-12 with two RBIs, two walks and seven strikeouts in the series before the late crowd-pleaser.

The homer was Ohtani’s 34th of the season and 81st of his career. Ten of the 81 have come against the A’s, but just three in Oakland.

He’s faced Irvin six times already this season, going 2-for-6 with a home run. His other hit was a bunt single.

The 27-year-old has pitched four times against Oakland in his career, going 2-2 with a 5.21 ERA. He has struck out 23 in 19 innings.

The only homer he has surrendered to a member of the A’s came in the second inning of his first MLB start on April 1, 2018 in Oakland. Matt Chapman did the damage, although the Angels came out on top that day 7-4, with Ohtani getting his first MLB win.

Ohtani (4-1, 3.49) suffered a 3-1 loss at Oakland in May, allowing all three of the runs in six innings. He was outdueled that day by Sean Manaea.

When he wasn’t scheduled to pitch in the Seattle series, the busiest of the All-Stars couldn’t have been surprised. In fact, he basically predicted it last Monday before his home run derby/leadoff-batter/starting-pitcher trifecta in Denver.

“I’m expecting to be pretty fatigued and exhausted after these two days,” he said. “But there’s a lot of people that want to watch it, and I want to make those guys happy, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

By pushing back to the Oakland series, he will be seeing an A’s team that had trouble putting runs on the scoreboard while losing two of three at home to the Cleveland Indians to open the second half. Oakland was limited to a total of four runs on 11 hits in consecutive defeats over the weekend.

“We feel like we’re healthier and have a deeper lineup. We just haven’t seen the results yet,” A’s manager Bob Melvin noted when asked if he was considering changes in the wake of Sunday’s 4-2 loss. “Every day we go out there, I feel we’re going to break out of it.”

Irvin has lost just once in his last seven starts, a stretch during which he’s pitched to a 2.95 ERA. He had a no-decision in an 8-4 home win over the Angels in that run, a game in which he allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The 27-year-old has gone 0-1 with a 6.17 ERA in two career starts against the Angels.

–Field Level Media

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