Angels fall to Rays as José Quintana struggles in fill-in start

Angels fall to Rays as José Quintana struggles in fill-in start

A day after he was drilled in the right elbow by a 93.4-mph fastball, Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani was scratched from Monday night’s scheduled start against the Tampa Bay Rays at Angel Stadium.

Left-hander José Quintana took Ohtani’s place and took a beating in a 7-3 loss, giving up five runs and six hits in a 32/3-inning start that could jeopardize his spot in the rotation, but the pitcher was the least of the team’s concerns.

Of far greater significance was a potentially serious injury to third baseman and cleanup man Anthony Rendon, who had to be helped off the field after fouling a pitch from sidearm-throwing Ryan Thompson off his left knee in the eighth inning.

The play was eerily reminiscent of one in July2019, when then-Angels infielder Tommy La Stella fouled a ball off his right leg and suffered a fractured tibia. Rendon, who had recently returned from a left-groin strain, was replaced by Scott Schebler, who struck out to end the inning.

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The Angels trimmed a 5-0 deficit to 5-3 in the sixth when Ohtani crushed a two-run homer to center field and Rendon hit a solo shot to left off Rays starter Tyler Glasnow. Manuel Margot’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth pushed Tampa Bay’s lead to 7-3.

The Angels did not help themselves with two ill-advised gambles on the basepaths. Ohtani was thrown out attempting to steal third with one out and Mike Trout at the plate in the first.

Trailing by two runs, Pujols led off the seventh with a single. Jose Iglesias lofted a fly ball toward the line in left but not too deep. The 41-year-old, heavy-legged Pujols tagged and was thrown out by Rays left fielder Randy Arozarena.

Quintana entered with an 0-2 record and 10.13 ERA and — despite striking out nine — departed with a 10.59 ERA, the highest mark for a pitcher in his first five games (minimum 15 innings) with the Angels, topping Trevor Bell’s 9.53 ERA in 2009 and Julio Teheran’s 9.17 ERA in 2020.

The game could not have started better for Quintana, who struck out five of his first six batters, but when Francisco Mejia singled to lead off the third, Quintana seemed to lose his tempo, rhythm and command out of the stretch.

Willy Adames hit a 107-mph rocket to the gap in right-center for a double. Kevin Kiermaier struck out, Arozarena walked to load the bases, and Mike Brousseau rolled a two-run single to left.

Austin Meadows flied to right, but Yandy Diaz hit a broken-bat RBI single to left and Margot added an RBI single to center for a 4-0 lead. Adames blasted a 446-foot homer to left-center off Quintana for a 5-0 lead in the fourth.

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Manager Joe Maddon said before the game that Ohtani was too sore to throw but not too sore to swing a bat. That was clear when Ohtani drove a ball 427feet in the sixth for his ninth homer, tying him for the major league lead.

The Angels weren’t about to risk sending Ohtani to the mound with a sore elbow after he threw a combined 12/3 innings in 2019 and 2020 in the wake of his 2019 Tommy John surgery.

“It would be challenging to try to throw 90 to 100 pitches at 95 to 100mph,” Maddon said. “We wanted to give it a day or two to relax, then we’ll make another evaluation.”

Ohtani could pitch later in the four-game Rays series. If not, he will likely pitch in this weekend against the Dodgers.

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As a rookie in 2018, Ohtani did not bat on the days before and after he pitched. The Angels have been much more aggressive this season in their use of Ohtani, who has not only hit on the days before and after he has pitched but in two of his three pitching starts.

But could this setback prompt the Angels to rest Ohtani the day before he pitches?

“Not at all, because he could be hit [by a pitch] two days before and still not be able to pitch,” Maddon said. “I don’t want to take days away from him because of a freak accident.”

Short hops

The Angels put setup man Mike Mayers on the injured list without a designation, meaning he could be experiencing side effects from a COVID-19 vaccination or have had contact with someone who tested positive for the virus. The right-hander is expected to return within a few days. Left-hander Patrick Sandoval was recalled and gave up one hit, struck out four and walked two in two scoreless innings of relief Monday.

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