By LARY BUMP, Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas — Shohei Ohtani hit his third home run in two games, Noah Syndergaard won a matchup of local pitchers and the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Texas Rangers 7-2 on Saturday night.
The game featured two starters from opposite sides of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in Syndergaard and Rangers lefty Taylor Hearn. It also became the latest showcase for Ohtani, the two-way superstar who won the AL MVP award last year.
Syndergaard (2-0) allowed two runs and five hits over six innings. Hearn gave up three runs in 3-2/3 innings.
Both threw 82 pitches, but Syndergaard was more economical. He needed just five pitches to get through the first inning and did not walk anybody. The right-hander retired his last 10 batters after giving up two runs in the third.
“I loved the efficiency,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “With all of his pitches, he was getting ahead of hitters. He could have gone seven innings for sure.”
Syndergaard agreed, but he was content with six.
“I still felt pretty strong. My body feels real good, but I’m two years off from surgery,” he said. “(Catcher Max) Stassi and I had a real good vibe going on.”
Ohtani finished 2 for 5 with a two-run homer into the Rangers’ bullpen in right-center. He scored three runs and drove in three more.
“I wasn’t sure if it was going to clear the wall but I am glad it did,” Ohtani told members of the Japanese media.
The eighth-inning homer increased Los Angeles’ lead from 4-2 to 6-2.
“His home run was a big at-bat at the time, getting the extra runs,” Maddon said.
The Angels peppered Hearn (0-1) in the third inning. Four batters singled and sent teammates to third base, beginning with Tyler Wade’s infield hit and a throwing error by second baseman Marcus Semien that sent Andrew Velazquez to third.
Stassi’s single scored Mike Trout and sent Taylor Ward to third. Ohtani and Anthony Rendon each had an RBI in the inning.
Ward, coming off the injured list for his first game this season, went 2 for 3 with a solo home run in the ninth. He also walked twice and stole a base.
Texas scored against Syndergaard on Semien’s run-scoring double and a groundout by Corey Seager. Syndergaard then struck out Adolis Garcia, gave up an infield hit and ended the inning with a groundout by Willie Calhoun.
“I struggled in the third,” Syndergaard said, “but I was able to get out without more damage.”
He pitched just two innings over the past two seasons following Tommy John surgery in March 2020.
“I don’t have triple-digit stuff yet,” Syndergaard said. “It’s my first year back. I want to focus on pitching and not so much on throwing hard. I do want to get that hundo (100 mph) going again.”
The Rangers’ beleaguered bullpen gave up four runs in the last three innings.