Shohei Ohtani will be the starting pitcher for the host Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night in Anaheim, Calif., against the Boston Red Sox, looking to end a personal slump on the mound -- and his team's 14-game losing streak.
Ohtani (3-4, 3.99 ERA) already has doubled his loss total from last season, when he went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA on his way to winning the American League MVP Award.
He's been particularly off his game during the club's losing streak, giving up nine runs and 14 hits in nine innings in losses to the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
It was so bad against the Yankees in his previous start last Thursday that there was talk of Ohtani tipping his pitches. He gave up four runs on eight hits, including three home runs, in just three innings. Ohtani, though, downplayed the possibility.
"They have a great lineup, and if I don't make my pitches, they're going to hit my pitches hard, and that's what happened," Ohtani, a right-hander, said through an interpreter. "I'm not sure (if I was tipping). You should ask the other team."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone was asked if his hitters were good at picking up tendencies of opposing pitchers.
"I think we are," Boone said. "We're going to hopefully continue to be good at it."
Ohtani is 2-1 with a 2.81 ERA in three career starts vs. Boston.
Ohtani also has slumped at the plate of late, most notably with the home run. He went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts in Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Red Sox and has not homered since May 29, a span of nine games and 36 at-bats.
Ohtani did not have Mike Trout hitting behind him in the lineup Wednesday because Trout is out with a tight left groin and is listed as day-to-day.
The Red Sox, who have won seven straight, also are without their center fielder in Enrique Hernandez, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Wednesday because of a strained hip flexor.
Jackie Bradley Jr. got the start in center field on Wednesday and figures to get most of the starts there moving forward. The Red Sox decided against calling up center fielder Jarren Duran, instead recalling switch-hitting infielder Jonathan Arauz.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora explained the club's decision was based on a plan to get some of the starting infielders some rest in upcoming games.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, however, was in the lineup Wednesday despite leaving Tuesday's game because of tightness in his right shoulder. He recently became the franchise's all-time leader in games played at shortstop.
"Something that defines him is consistency," Hernandez said. "He's as consistent as they get, and I'd say that's both on and off the field -- at the plate, on defense, in the clubhouse, same guy every day."
Right-hander Nick Pivetta (5-4, 3.50 ERA) will be on the mound for Boston to make his 12th start of the season. He's coming off his best start of the year last Saturday against Oakland when he shut out the A's on two hits over seven innings.
Pivetta has made a complete turnaround from a slow start to the season, winning five decisions in a row after beginning the year 0-4 with a 7.84 ERA in his first five starts. However, he doesn't want to dwell on why he's been able to do it.
"I don't know. I'm just going out there and having fun, playing baseball, just repeating what I've been doing more," he said. "I'm not trying to overanalyze it -- I'm just trying to go out, compete, have fun, win baseball games -- that's all I really care about, and that's all I really want to do."
Pivetta has made one career start against the Angels, giving up two runs in six innings and getting a no-decision in a game last season.
--Field Level Media