The Los Angeles Angels hope to build on the momentum of a feel-good series opener when they visit the Oakland Athletics for a rematch Tuesday night.
The Angels got a first-inning home run from Luis Rengifo and a combined two-hitter from Jose Suarez and two relievers in opening a three-game set with a 1-0 win Monday night against a team that won two of three in Anaheim last week.
But the good news didn't end there. Before Monday's game, two-way standout Shohei Ohtani tested his injured left foot in a short bullpen session and was deemed healthy enough to make his scheduled pitching start Tuesday.
Ohtani was spiked atop the left foot in a collision with Seattle Mariners pitcher Marco Gonzales during Sunday's game in Seattle.
Serving as the designated hitter, Ohtani was able to finish the game but was limping noticeably after a fifth-inning single, leading to concern over his status for the Oakland series.
The slugger sat out Monday's game, but Angels interim manager Phil Nevin assured it was merely a routine day of rest before a pitching start rather than anything to do with the foot injury.
"It was either going to be (Monday) or it was going to be Wednesday. I kinda gave him that option," Nevin said of Ohtani's day off. "I think he likes to get out there and get moving the day after he pitches. It just made more sense for him to take (Monday off), and I totally understand it."
For the second consecutive day, Tuesday's pitching matchup will be a repeat of last week, when the A's James Kaprielian (3-5, 4.32 ERA) outdueled Ohtani (9-7, 2.83) in a 3-1 Oakland win in a matchup of right-handers.
Kaprielian limited the Angels to one run in 5 1/3 innings. He's never lost in four career starts against the Angels, going 3-0 with a 1.17 ERA.
He's faced Ohtani the hitter 10 times in their careers and has held him hitless, with five strikeouts. Ohtani reached base once on a walk.
Kaprielian is unbeaten in his last seven starts overall, going 3-0 with a 2.33 ERA. He has allowed just two runs over 16 1/3 innings in his last three starts.
A's manager Mark Kotsay would love for his right-hander to pitch as well as Cole Irvin did in Monday's loss. The lefty limited the Angels to five hits in eight innings, but Rengifo's homer produced one more run than the A's could muster for their pitcher.
"It's unfortunate that offensively we couldn't support him and get him enough runs for a win," Kotsay assured afterward. "But Cole did everything he could to get us a win. Ultimately, the bats weren't there."
The A's got seven hits in 5 2/3 innings off Ohtani last week, including a difference-making, two-run homer by Sean Murphy.
The loss dropped Ohtani to 0-3 in his last three starts, during which he's been charged with 10 runs in 18 innings.
The 28-year-old has made seven career starts against the A's, going 2-3 with a 3.49 ERA.
--Field Level Media