ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — On consecutive nights during an otherwise regular homestand in June for the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani accomplished two feats that would each be a career landmark for practically every other player in baseball history.
On Tuesday, Ohtani hit a couple of three-run homeruns and drove in a career-high eight runs, the most by a Japanese-born player in the major leagues.
On Wednesday, Ohtani struckout a career-high 13 while pitching eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball, eliminating 16 consecutive Kansas City Royals and giving up 24 outs without a hit against his last 24 batters.
This superstar who plays on both sides is still coming up with new ways to amaze the baseball world.
A year after unanimously winning the AL MVP award in honor of his completely unprecedented season, Ohtani is still finding new places to write his name in the major league record books as he strives to beat the perpetually struggling Angels (34-38). to get back on your feet. a winning number.
Almost halfway through a second straight season of revolutionary play, Ohtani’s unique abilities are normalizing to an extent that seemed impossible before reaching his full powers last year – but his fans and his fellow Halos never take it for granted.
“If you look at it every day, you think you get used to the grandeur, but there’s a lot going on with it,” said Angels interim manager Phil Nevin. “Just as his mind is in play, he is aware of everything. He is incredible. To see what he does on a baseball field is fun to be a part of it every day.”
Ohtani (6-4) saw his performance in more practical terms on Wednesday night after taking his third straight win and moving to fifth in the AL with strikeouts, despite making two or three fewer starts than everyone above him.
“We were losing and I just wanted to end that, to get the team rolling,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “It’s what the team needed.”
No player had ever achieved the combined feat of eight RBIs and at least 10 strikeouts in back-to-back games — not Babe Ruth, and no one else from the old days.
No player in baseball history had ever had both an eight-RBI game and a 13-strikeout game, but Ohtani did it on consecutive nights in the Big A. Tony Cloninger came closest with both a 10-strikeout and a 10-strike-out game. a game of nine. RBI game for Atlanta during the 1966 season.
Though not halfway through, Ohtani is embarking on a remarkable encore for his groundbreaking MVP season.
His pitching numbers are largely ahead of last year, with his strikeouts higher and both his walks and ERA lower. His batting numbers are still one step behind last year’s pace, but are rising fast, hitting .301 in 22 games since May 29 with six home runs and 16 RBI’s.
Ohtani has a 2.90 ERA and the sheer diversity of his pitching repertoire remains daunting. Kansas City’s Mike Matheny had never seen Ohtani pitch as manager to any of his teams until Wednesday night, and the experience was an eye-opener.
“I don’t think you’ll find as many men with as many guns as what we’ve seen today,” Matheny said. He threw it all for strikes, and he swapped it. He threw three different sliders, plus a cutter and a curve. When the split started, the strikeouts really started happening, and he’s got 100 (mph) in the tank he almost never showed. You control the strike zone, you have so many things to use, and you throw them all for strikes, it’s going to be a rough day at the plate.”
Ohtani delivers his last unprecedented performance in yet another tense year for the Angels, who haven’t had a winning season with Ohtani on their roster – or won a playoff game during the much extended career of fellow MVP Mike Trout.
Los Angeles started 24-13 and took the top spot in the AL West on May 16, but the Angels soon entered a losing spiral that stretched to a franchise record 14 games and resulted in the resignation of manager Joe Maddon. .
Ohtani, of course, put an end to it, throwing seven innings with a four-basehit and hitting a two-run homerun on June 9 for a 5-2 win over Boston. With Wednesday’s win over Kansas City, the Angels have won four of their last six under Nevin, Ohtani’s fourth manager in five seasons in Orange County.
The Angels still have plenty of time to turn their season around, and the expanded playoff field would make it easier than ever for Los Angeles to end the decade of underperformance. And Ohtani shows no sign of getting tired under the strife of the angels, even though he should have every right.
Angel Stadium gave him a standing ovation on Wednesday-evening after his seventh shutout inning, but Ohtani told Nevin he insisted on returning for the eighth.
“I felt like I still had some stuff in the tank,” Ohtani said.
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