DETROIT — Shohei Ohtani clearly wasn’t himself, and shortly after he was removed from the game the Angels announced why.
Ohtani had a stomach virus, which helped explain a shaky outing in the Angels’ 4-0 loss to the Detroit Tigers on Sunday.
Ohtani was pulled after struggling through four innings, allowing three runs and walking a season-high four batters. He also didn’t finish the game as a hitter, which suggested there was something wrong with him beyond just an off day on the mound. About 30 minutes later, the Angels announced the illness.
“I know we call him Superman all the time, but it’s another example that he’s human,” manager Phil Nevin said. “He grinded through four for us, which is big knowing we have a lot of games coming up.”
Ohtani said he had felt sick the whole morning, but he didn’t tell anyone until after it got worse during his warm-ups in the bullpen just before the game.
“I was penciled in to start today,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “Just because I was sick I wasn’t going to avoid it.”
Nevin said he didn’t find out about Ohtani’s condition until he was going to bat in the top of the first inning. He said Ohtani looked off, but he still credited him for getting through the outing as well as he did.
“He was taking a little more time in between pitches,” Nevin said. “You could just see him catching his breath once in a while, but he was adamant that he was fine to pitch. His stuff was there.”
The game started ominously for Ohtani, who gave up a homer to Riley Greene on his first pitch of the afternoon. Ohtani’s velocity was also down slightly throughout the first inning. Although the velocity increased to his normal numbers after the first, he still struggled with his control.
In the fourth inning, Ohtani issued back-to-back two-out walks to No. 9 hitter Akil Badoo and Greene. Ohtani then gave up a two-run triple to Victor Reyes, who golfed a slider at his ankles off the right field fence.
Up until that pitch, Ohtani had still only given up one run, which certainly would have been a successful outing with his condition. When Ohtani was asked if the sickness had affected his performance, he said he still felt like had enough to keep the team in the game.
“Even though I didn’t have my best stuff, I was down one run with two outs in that inning,” Ohtani said. “If I could have kept it to one run it would have been much better.”
Ohtani told Nevin that he was done before his turn to hit in the fifth inning. The Angels will check to see how Ohtani is feeling on Monday to determine if he can play the first game of a series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I’m going to check with him later and I’ll check with him tomorrow when he gets to the field,” Nevin said, “but knowing him, he’s going to come in and tell me he wants to play.”
After Ohtani left the mound, reliever Jimmy Herget then gave up another run in the fifth, putting the Angels in a 4-0 hole.
Their offense had come up empty against left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who was making his first start after being away from the team for three months to deal with a personal issue.
Rodriguez didn’t show much rust, though.
The Angels had a couple of chances to do some damage against him, but they were robbed by Tigers outfielders. In the third inning, the Angels had runners at first and second with one out. Ohtani struck out, and then Luis Rengifo hit a blooper that Greene snagged with a diving catch in center field.
In the fourth, Taylor Ward led off with a drive that was headed over the right field fence but Reyes robbed him a homer with a leaping catch.
Mike Trout had two of the Angels’ hits, along with a walk. Trout is 3 for 11 with a walk in three games since coming off the injured list.
Trout said “everything feels good,” with his swing and his back, which caused him to miss more than a month. It’s unclear how many of the upcoming games Trout will play, particularly with seven straight games on artificial turf. Nevin said he was also satisfied with the way Trout swung the bat after such a long layoff, and with no rehab assignment.
“I thought he looked great,” Nevin said. “I thought he moved around great in center. He’s reported feeling great. He doesn’t feel anything in the area of concern. So we’ll see how this week goes.”