Since 2001 there have been numerous match-ups of two Japanese players facing each other. The LA Angels have Shohei Ohtani from Japan and this week he squared off against two of his fellow countrymen in Anaheim.
LA Angels Shohei Ohtani has had quite a week. On Saturday night Ohtani faced not only a fellow countrymen in Yusei Kikuchi, but Kikuchi is actually from the same city as Ohtani and the same high school as well. With over 80 Japanese media members looking on Ohtani went 3 for 5 with a home in off of Kikuchi helping the Angels to a 12-3 victory over the Mariners.
Ohtani didn’t stop there. Tuesday night Ohtani faced Kenta Maeda and the LA Dodgers. So what did Ohtani do for an encore to Saturday. Of course he hit a home run off of Maeda to put the Angels on the board in the first inning. Ohtani’s first inning homer sparked a five-run uprising off of Maeda that gave the Angels a 5-0 cushion and they went on to a 5-3 victory over the Dodgers to complete a sweep of the two-game series.
Ohtani has only been back from Tommy John surgery for about a month, be he has already provided some big moments and helped spark five or six Angel victories.
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On Monday night Ohtani did not face a Japanese pitcher. The Dodgers actually pitched Hyn-Jin Ryu, a Korean lefty who is leading the NL Cy Young race so far. Ohtani did not start the game, however he came in the 8th inning as a pinch-hitter. Ohtani worked a lead-off walk in a tie game. He moved around to third and scored the winning run sliding under Russell Martin’s outstretched foot.
So far this season Ohtani is hitting .256 with seven homers and 23 RBIs with a .331 OBP. Not eye-popping numbers, but Ohtani definitely seems to have the flair for the dramatic. Ohtani hit a go-ahead home run on May 13th that helped the Angels get a 5-4 victory over the Twins. Five days later hit a two-run blast to give the Angels a 4-0 lead in a 6-3 victory over the Royals.
@Angels tweeted a video of Ohtani’s first inning homer vs. Dodgers last night.
Then on May 28th Ohtani came through with a 9th inning two-out two-run single to right field to break a 4 all tie. The hit gave the Angels a 6-4 victory over the Oakland A’s. On June 5th Ohtani hit a 3-run homer to cap a seven-run Angels comeback against Oakland which they would later win 10-9.
If Ohtani can keep it up it will go a long way in helping the Angels stay in the race for a playoff spot. For now the let’s just enjoy a star in the making. Even if Ohtani can’t pitch this year he has still been a key factor in helping the Angels as try to rise up in the standings.
Let’s hope it will continue. がんばろう, Shohei !!! (Translation: Good Luck Shohei!!)