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Angels' Shohei Ohtani might not face Yankees' Masahiro Tanaka

By
Dan Arritt, The Sports Xchange
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani looks up after loading up the bases in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox on April 17 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani looks up after loading up the bases in the second inning against the Boston Red Sox on April 17 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI | License Photo

The matchup between Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels and Masahiro Tanaka of the New York Yankees was expected to take center stage Saturday night at Angel Stadium, but that's no longer a certainty.

Ohtani rolled his left ankle while running out a ground ball to start the fifth inning in the series opener on Friday night and left long before the 4-3, 10-inning loss to the Yankees. He was diagnosed with a mild sprain.

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"Just kind of rolled it a little bit," Angels manager Mike Scioscia told reporters after the game. "We'll evaluate it day to day."

Ohtani is a rookie pitcher/designated hitter from Japan who has performed well in his first month in the majors. His next start on the mound was expected to be on Tuesday against the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

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Tanaka (3-2, 4.97 ERA) is a veteran right-hander who came to the Yankees from Japan in 2014 and achieved All-Star status in his first season.

The Angels and Yankees feature two of the best hitters in the majors so far this season as well.

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout and New York shortstop Didi Gregorius each has a major league-leading 10 home runs.

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Gregorius hit his 10th on Friday night in the top of the 10th to break a 3-3 tie in the victory that extended New York's winning streak to seven games.

Ohtani homered earlier in the game to give the Angels a 1-0 lead.

Tanaka is coming off his best outing of the season, allowing one run and three hits in 6 2/3 innings of a 14-1 win against the visiting Minnesota Twins on Monday.

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Those numbers were very similar to his last start against the Angels, when he allowed one earned run and three hits over 6 2/3 innings of a 5-3 win at Angel Stadium on June 12 of last season.

Tanaka has made four starts overall in his career against the Angels. He is 1-0 with a 1.63 ERA in 27 2/3 innings, his lowest ERA against a team he has faced more than once.

Angels starter Garrett Richards (3-0, 3.46) made his major league debut against the Yankees on Aug. 10, 2011. He gave up a three-run homer to Curtis Granderson before he recorded his first out and has continued to struggle against New York.

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He is 0-3 in his career against the Yankees with a 6.65 ERA, but like Granderson, many of the players who were successful against Richards are no longer on the team.

The only current Yankees who have faced Richards are Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks and Gregorius, and they're a combined 3-for-17 with no extra-base hits against him.

Richards is trying to start 4-0 for the second time in his career. He won his first four decisions in 2014, and was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA that year when he sustained a season-ending left knee injury while covering first base against the Boston Red Sox on Aug. 26.

Richards was then limited to six starts in the 2016 season and six in 2017.

He was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow in May of 2016. He opted for stem-cell therapy rather than the more traditional Tommy John surgery.

He returned for the 2017 season, but after one game went on the 60-day disabled list after a scan revealed irritation to the cutaneous nerve. He returned to make five starts in September and finished the season 0-2 with a 2.28 ERA.

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