As the Los Angeles Angels returned home on Friday to face the Baltimore Orioles, it was another opportunity to put together a win and get closer to .500. Joe Maddon’s Angels struggled early, as Brandon Hyde’s Orioles pounced on starting pitcher Griffin Canning for six runs in three innings. However, the Orioles appeared to be no match for Shohei Ohtani.
Facing a 6-2 deficit, Ohtani hit a solo home run — his 29th of the season — to make it 6-3. Then, the very next inning, Ohtani turned a 6-5 deficit into a 7-6 lead with a two-run home run. It was his second two home run game of the week, and it gave him 30 on the season.
He wasn’t done there, as in the bottom of the ninth, with the Angels and Orioles locked at seven apiece, he had more magic in him. Ohtani drew a one-out walk, then stole second base, then got all the way home on a walk-off single by Jared Walsh.
Maddon — who is running out of ways to talk about Ohtani — gave it another shot after a superb Friday night, according to Megan Garcia of MLB.com:
“What he’s doing is kind of unheard of,” Maddon said. “The only blip recently was the game in New York as a pitcher. His whole game is spectacular to watch. It’s an All-Star performance, above and beyond. [In two weeks] everyone will get a chance to watch. It’s a pleasure to be his manager, to be a steward of his career.”
Hyde gave his perspective from the Orioles dugout as to what it’s like facing Ohtani at this moment.
“He pretty much single-handedly beat us. He’s such a good player. I don’t know what to say,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “The hottest hitter on the planet right now and it’s not just driving the ball and base hits. It’s deep home runs. You walk him and he’ll steal second on you.”
This is not the first time this season that an opposing manager has essentially given up when trying to understand how to beat Ohtani. Through July 2, Ohtani has 30 home runs and 12 stolen bases, putting him on pace to be the third player in MLB history to have at least 50 home runs and 24 stolen bases in a season.
Perhaps this is just one of the greatest hot streaks in the history of the sport. Or it’s simply that Ohtani is that good. Either way, stopping him is a tall task given his recent performance.
Ohtani selected for All-Star Game
The Angels two-way star is heading to Denver later this month to take part in both the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game, as he was voted a starter by a considerable margin. For now, the plan is to start him at the designated hitter spot.
However, American League manager Kevin Cash could also decide to have him pitch if the moment is right. The Angels have said they will not stop that from happening.