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Astros Win Pitcher’s Duel 5-1 over Angels and Ohtani

Lance McCullers was nails!

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Houston Astros Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

For those who didn’t watch the game, you might wonder how a 5-1 game was a pitcher’s duel.

This was a game for the ages. Both teams, yes the losing Angels too, should be heartened by what happened tonight. And for much the same reason.

It was a pitcher’s duel because both pitchers left the game with the score tied 1-1 into the eighth inning.

Shohei Ohtani pitched one of the best games of his career, going seven innings, allowing only four hits, one walk while striking out 10. Yes, the gun hit as high as 99.

The only damage done to Ohtani was an opposite-field solo homer by Kyle Tucker, his seventh of the year.

If you think the Astros bats were just cold, look what happened after Ohtani left.

In the bottom of the eighth the Astros tagged the Angels bullpen for four runs, one on a Michael Brantley single to score Jose Altuve, and the other three on a Yuli Gurriel homer scoring Michael Brantley and Yordan Alvarez.

And unlike in years past when Ohtani did not hit when he pitched, today he got one of the only three hits by his team and even played right field in the eighth inning.

On the other side, Lance Mccullers matched Ohtani pitch for pitch, throwing eight complete, allowing only one run on three hits, two walks, with nine strikeouts.

It certainly ranks near the top of pitching performances in the now fairly long career of Lance McCullers, and this was the Lance McCullers we have been expecting all along for years.

What is heartening about this game for both sides was not just the great pitching performances, but how both pitchers got there.

Both young Ohtani and McCullers are troubled by inconsistent control. But today Ohtani threw 62 of 88 pitches for strikes. McCullers threw 64 of 96 for strikes. Lance had total command of four pitches. Yes, the fastball, at last, plus the curve, slider, and changeup.

The only blemish on Lance’s night was a just barely, oppo field homer to Taylor Ward in the eighth inning.

He pitched out of trouble in the seventh when he allowed a leadoff single to his mound opponent, then walked Mike Trout with no outs. But then he induced a double play and a groundout to maintain his shutout up until that time.

Kyle Tucker got two hits tonight and now has his BA above.200 for the first time this year. The wheels of luck are starting to turn for the young slugger who leads the team in homers and has been crushing the ball straight into outs all season.

Here’s a nice play. Machete cuts down another would be base stealer.

Box Score and Videos HERE.

Jose Urquidy goes for the Astros tomorrow at MMP at 7:10 PM