|Ohtani gets 4th start as Angels take on Astros|
HOUSTON -- Instead of prolonging the anxiety that often accompanies that first call-up to the majors, the Los Angeles Angels wasted no time giving right-hander Justin Anderson his big-league debut.
Anderson, a native Houstonian, worked a scoreless eighth inning in the Angels' 2-0 win on Monday, pitching around a pair of hits while also recording a strikeout. Anderson attended St. Pius X High School and Texas-San Antonio before the Angels selected him in 2014. With more than four dozen family members and friends in attendance, he skillfully showcased his wares.
"Justin has made the switch from a starting pitcher with us to the bullpen in the minor leagues and hopefully is starting to get comfortable with it," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "His stuff is real, he's harnessed it; he's got a terrific arm. As long as he can harness it you have to be excited about his upside and what he can do."
Another Angels rookie, right-hander Shohei Ohtani (2-1, 3.60 ERA), will make his fourth start of the season and the first of his career against the Astros on Tuesday. It will mark his third start against an American League West opponent, with Ohtani opening his career with consecutive outings against the Athletics including one on April 8 where he allowed one hit and one walk white striking out 12 batters over seven scoreless innings. Ohtani departed his last start against Boston on April 17 with blister problems, working only two innings in the Angels' 10-1 loss.
Right-hander Charlie Morton (3-0, 0.72 ERA) earns the starting nod for the Astros. Morton, who leads the AL in ERA, is 3-0 with a 3.14 ERA over five career starts against the Angels. He faced them three times last season, twice at Minute Maid Park, tossing five shutout innings in a 3-0 victory on April 17 before surrendering one run on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts over seven innings in a 6-2 win on Sept. 23. In his lone appearance in Anaheim, he allowed three runs on four hits and one walk with five strikeouts over five innings in a 7-5 win.
While Morton has been sensational thus far, Ohtani will be the attraction in the middle game of the series. The Astros are unlikely to get a look at his bat, but the two-way Japanese import offers equal intrigue with his arm from the mound.
"I'm certainly interested to see him; we've got to find a way to beat him," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said of Ohtani. "He's been very good early on. I know he had one little bad start but I think everyone is a little intrigued.
"Similar to any player that comes into the league, he has fanfare and international notoriety, there's intrigue to check him out and see what he's got against our guys."
The Astros (16-8) got their first look at the Angels' revamped roster on Monday as their six-game winning streak came to an end. The Angels (15-8) bolstered their lineup with the offseason additions of veteran infielders Ian Kinsler and Zack Cozart plus Ohtani to compete with the World Series champions who have designs on dominating the division they both share.
"They're a really good team in every facet of the game," Hinch said. "They obviously had a great core to begin with and then they added some really exceptional players when you look at last season they added (left fielder Justin) Upton and this offseason they added Cozart and Ohtani. They just look like a team where they're building where they have very few weaknesses."