What do you for an encore Shohei Ohtani?
By David Rice
Shohei Ohtani has been on fire lately and has made some interesting moments this week. He is a major reason the Angels swept the Dodgers. So what’s next?
Shohei Ohtani and the Angels fresh off a two-game sweep in the Freeway Series on Monday and Tuesday headed out for an important 11-game road trip in Tampa Bay. In game one against wild-card leading Tampa Bay the Angels started quickly thanks to Shohei Ohtani, who for the third time in five games hit a home run, a three-run shot to left-center that gave the Angels a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
Albert Pujols extended the Angels lead to 5-0 with a two-run jack in the 5th inning that was Pujols’ 200th HR in an Angel uniform. A nice moment for “The Machine”, but the story was Ohtani on this night.
After his first inning home run Ohtani hit a third inning double, which was followed with a 5th inning triple ahead of Pujols’ blast. This set up Ohtani’s history-making at-bat in the seventh. Ohtani calmly stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh inning against Rays pitcher Hunter Wood. On a 3-2 pitch from Wood, Ohtani laced a line drive single to right-center for the final hit to complete the cycle.
These are the Angel players who have hit for the cycle in team history courtesy of @LAAngelsPR
Ohtani’s cycle was the first by an Angel since Mike Trout did it in 2013. However, it was also a history-making cycle for Japan. Ohtani is the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in MLB history. Ohtani had already hit home runs off of two of his fellow countrymen on Saturday and Tuesday when Ohtani connected off of Yusei Kikuchi and Kenta Maeda.
Over all in his last seven games Ohtani is batting .400 with three home runs and six RBIs in the past seven games. Since June 2nd when Ohtani was only hitting .225 with three homers and 13 RBIs, he has been on fire. Ohtani has batted .438 (14 for 32) with five homers and 13 RBIs to raise his season average to .281 and he now has eight homers and 26 RBIs. My oh my what a nine-game stretch for the Japanese wunderkind.
More importantly it draws the Angels to one game under .500 winning four of their last five games. So the next time you ask what Shohei Ohtani can do for an encore be prepared to get a loud and resounding answer like the one Ohtani provided in Tampa Bay on Thursday. がんばり続けるShohei!!! (Translation: Keep it up Shohei!)