For the first time in nearly 100 seasons, Shohei Ohtani became the first player since Babe Ruth to lead the majors in home runs ahead of his start. He didn’t disappoint, as Ohtani delivered on the mound and at the plate en route to a 9-4 win over the Rangers. The victory for Ohtani marks his first since May 20, 2018.
It didn’t look like Ohtani would last more than a few innings to begin the game. The two-way phenom threw just 11 strikes on 29 pitches in the first inning as he allowed four earned runs on two hits while walking two and striking out one. Ohtani also hit a batter and gave up a two-run homer in that inning.
After that he was lights out. Through innings 2-5, Ohtani retired 11 straight batters, seven via strikeout, before allowing a base hit. That didn’t matter as he struck out the next man up, Joey Gallo, to end the fifth inning.
Ohtani’s Final Line: 5 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
That was just one half of Ohtani’s night. At the plate, Ohtani went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and two RBI. He also managed one walk and one strikeout and one of his hits was a double with a 113.8 MPH exit velocity.
It was an impressive outing considering the command issues from Ohtani in the first inning. I don’t think that’s something to be too concerned about given the fact the most important thing for Ohtani is to get comfortable being back on the mound. He’s made just five starts since 2018 (three starts in 2021), while coming off Tommy John surgery (2018) and an elbow injury that shut him down last summer.
Angels: Shohei Ohtani’s two-way skills were on full display in his first win since 2018.
You can’t expect things to be perfect, and even with that said, Ohtani has still shown some incredible stuff on the mound. He hasn’t lost his ability to create swings and misses and his 12.5 strikeouts per nine innings ratio this season shows that.
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After Tuesday, Ohtani now owns a 3.29 ERA as a pitcher and a 1.016 OPS as a hitter. I’ll be the first to admit I was skeptical about Ohtani’s legend when he first arrived. I wasn’t sure if his ability to play at such a high level as a regular two-way player would translate in the majors.
Clearly I was wrong, and thank goodness for that because it seems like every time he takes the field some type of MLB record or history has the potential to be made. Aside from the baseball archives, he’s bringing an excitement to the game that we haven’t seen before.
When he’s at the plate you need to watch in case you miss a 400-plus foot home run, and when he’s on the mound he’s pumping 99 MPH fastballs effortlessly. He continued to amaze on Tuesday night.
Ohtani threw the fastest pitch of the game (99.3 MPH) and hit the hardest ball (113.8 MPH) between both teams.
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What’s funny is I haven’t even mentioned Mike Trout’s return while talking about Ohtani’s latest start. He finished his night 4-for-5 with a double and 2 RBI and now leads the majors with a .426 batting average and 1.359 OPS.
I think it’s safe to assume the AL MVP race will be decided in Anaheim if these trends continue.