After nearly two weeks off the mound due to a sprained ankle, Shohei Ohtani was a bit surprised about how he felt.
He was less surprised by how he pitched.
"I had no worries about my command. I felt like today I had one of my better commands," Ohtani said through a translator.
The two-way Japanese star took a shutout into the seventh inning while outpitching Felix Hernandez and got help from Mike Trout's 12th home run in the Los Angeles Angels' 8-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday.
Ohtani (3-1) made his first start on the mound since April 24 and looked to be completely in rhythm and showed no effects. He struck out six and used a mix of his four pitches to keep Seattle's hitters off balance.
Ohtani was able to keep the ball down in the strike zone against a Mariners lineup that typically fares well against fastball pitchers. And his breaking pitches left batters flailing.
"His stuff is really good. Stuff was real," Seattle's Kyle Seager said. "Definitely throws hard and has a good splitter. Was throwing some slow curveballs and seemed like he had his slider working pretty well today, too."
It was 6-0 going into the seventh, and Ohtani had been nearly flawless before running into trouble after a lengthy break on the bench. He gave up a leadoff single to Mitch Haniger, watched Ryon Healy hit a two-run homer and issued a four-pitch walk.
Manager Mike Scioscia quickly made a switch, pulling Ohtani after 98 pitches to a mix of boos from Seattle fans and cheers from those that showed up in red.
Ohtani allowed six hits, walked two and didn't allow a runner past second until Healy homered in the seventh. It was the second time in his five starts Ohtani allowed less than three earned runs.
"The booing that didn't faze me at all. The way I left the game, giving up the two runs and a walk like that is something I need to work on," Ohtani said. "I was really frustrated with myself the way I ended the game."
Trout's home run, which put him one behind Boston's Mookie Betts for the major league lead, was the last of three hit by the Angels. Zack Cozart and Chris Young connected for solo drives off Hernandez (4-3) in the second.
But what became Seattle's undoing was a wild pitch on a strikeout that should have ended the sixth. Hernandez got Young swinging for what should have been the third out, but the breaking ball was spiked in the dirt and catcher Mike Zunino had little chance to keep it from bouncing to the backstop. Young was safe and first and scored on the next pitch as Rene Rivera doubled.
Hernandez walked Ian Kinsler on four pitches, the final batter he faced. Chasen Bradford entered and on his second pitch Trout hit a towering shot into the Angels' bullpen for a 6-0 lead.
"Just getting pitches and not missing them. Getting my foot down on time and my timing is good right now," Trout said.
Hernandez was tagged with five earned runs. He struck out five and walked four.
"The two pitches I threw were a mistake. They were in the middle of the plate," Hernandez said. "The curveball I threw was way in front of the plate. (Zunino) couldn't do anything about that. It wasn't his fault, so it was my fault. But it's frustrating."
Rivera added a two-run single in the ninth off reliever Casey Lawrence.
Seattle shortstop Jean Segura was lifted after the seventh inning due to a migraine headache that progressive got worse during the game.
The Angels could be on the verge of getting a pair of their injured arms back in the bullpen. Keynan Middleton (elbow inflammation) and Blake Wood (elbow impingement) were scheduled to throw on Sunday and Scioscia was hopeful both could be back in the next week.
The Angels recalled OF Jabari Blash from Triple-A Salt Lake and optioned right-hander Eduardo Paredes to Salt Lake. Parades gave up the game-winning hit by Healy in the 11th inning of Saturday night's game. Blash was hitting .350 with 10 homers at Salt Lake.
Angels: LHP Andrew Heaney (1-1) makes his fifth start on Tuesday at Colorado. Heaney won his first game of the year in his last start, throwing six innings and allowing one run vs. Baltimore.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (1-1) will get the start on Tuesday when the Mariners open a series in Toronto. Paxton is coming off a career-high 16 strikeouts in his last start vs. Oakland.