Ohtani’s command was off in a season-high 98-pitch effort, in which he threw only 55 pitches for strikes. He gave up five bases on balls, with two of those free passes coming around to score.
Ohtani knows he needs to throw more first-pitch strikes to help his pitch count, but he said a team such as the Astros makes a pitcher work for everything he gets.
“The Astros have a great lineup, and they made me work really hard,” Ohtani said. “So I need to kind of outwork them, outlast them. And if the pitch count goes up, there’s nothing I can do about that, but I just need to outlast them.”
The Angels’ trainer checked Ohtani’s hand in the sixth inning, but manager Mike Scioscia said after the game that the blister wasn’t an issue.
“[Catcher] Martín [Maldonado] thought the ball came out funny there [in the sixth inning] in the last pitch he threw to [Yuli] Gurriel, and then he came back and struck out [Alex] Bregman, and we made the change,” Scioscia said. “But [the trainer] went out there, and [Ohtani] said he’s fine.”
Acuna became the youngest player in the major leagues on Wednesday at 20 years, 128 days, and went 1-for-5 in his debut. He led off the second inning Thursday with a home run five rows deep into the left-field upper deck against Homer Bailey, singled in the sixth and hit a tiebreaking double off Wandy Peralta (1-1) in the eighth following Freddie Freeman’s third double of the game.
“It’s truly a unique moment,” Acuna, who is from Venezuela, said through interpreter Franco Garcia. “Your first home run in the big leagues is a once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
Acuna became the youngest Braves player to homer since Andruw Jones against the Reds on Aug. 23, 1997, when he was 20 years, 122 days. Acuna was greeted in the dugout by the traditional silent treatment and walked almost the entire length of the dugout, exchanging phantom high-fives, before his teammates pounced to celebrate.
Albies, a 21-year-old who made his debut last August, hit a two-run homer in the fifth for a 4-0 lead and added an RBI double in the ninth.
“It’s fun to watch,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s cool to be around these young guys and the energy they bring.”
Snitker was impressed as much by Acuna’s speed as his power.