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Ohtani shines before Angels win in 9th

Reuters

Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani fires a pitch in the first inning against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday in Anaheim, Calif.

The Associated PressANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani had four pitches that were all doing terrible things to the Minnesota Twins. The two-way sensation got five consecutive strikeouts at one point while he pitched into the seventh inning of another dominant performance.

Although the Los Angeles Angels couldn’t do enough against the Twins’ own rookie pitching star to get a win for Ohtani, they made sure to end their series with a celebration anyway.

After Ohtani racked up 11 strikeouts while yielding only three singles, Zack Cozart delivered a walk-off RBI single in the Angels’ 2-1 victory Sunday.

Ohtani again dazzled his home fans while throwing a season-high 103 pitches in his sixth start for the Angels. With his fastball hitting 158 kph and his off-speed pitches plummeting through the strike zone, the Japanese right-hander reached 43 strikeouts for the season, blowing past Bo Belinsky’s franchise record for strikeouts in a pitcher’s first six games.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia called Ohtani’s performance “phenomenal. ... He had both breaking balls working, his slider and his curveball. His splitter was as good as we’ve seen it, and he got some big outs with his fastball.”

Yet Ohtani was denied his fourth win after he left to a standing ovation following Logan Morrison’s nine-pitch walk in the seventh. Reliever Cam Bedrosian promptly allowed hits by his first two batters, including pinch-hitter Joe Mauer’s tying RBI single.

“I didn’t feel fatigued at all, actually,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I feel like I was able to mix in all of my pitches and keep the hitters off balance.”

Although neither got a decision, Fernando Romero joined Ohtani in an entertaining duel at the Big A.

Romero pitched five innings of four-hit ball in his third big-league start as the Twins finished their impressive 10-game road trip with seven wins, but also their major league-worst sixth walk-off defeat.

Romero allowed his first run in the fifth inning, ending his scoreless start to his career at 15⅔ innings when Justin Upton beat out a potential double-play grounder in the fifth. But the Dominican right-hander otherwise excelled against the Angels’ veteran lineup, striking out six while walking three.

Minnesota put four straight batters on base in the ninth inning, yet the Angels kept it tied.

Ehire Adrianza was thrown out at the plate by Mike Trout and Ian Kinsler while he attempted to score from first on Robbie Grossman’s double.

“You just put the best throw on the bag that you can,” said Kinsler of his relay throw to Martin Maldonado, who made a slick tag. “There’s a lot of ways that can go wrong.”

Blake Parker then got Brian Dozier to pop out with the bases loaded to end the ninth. Parker (1-1) got the win for throwing just one pitch.

Ohtani was making his first daytime home start since he took a perfect game into the seventh inning of a brilliant one-hit, 12-strikeout performance against Oakland on April 8. The Twins managed two short singles early on, but Ohtani also struck out nine of 12 batters during the first four innings, including five in a row during the second and third.

“As advertised,” Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said after his club’s first look at Ohtani. “He’s got pitches. He could get the breaking ball over, and he got guys to chase it.”Speech

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