Los Angeles Angels two-way Shohei Ohtani has, on several occasions, managed to make the impossible look routine. Over the past two seasons, one would be hard-pressed to find a seven-day span in which Ohtani didn’t do something otherworldly on a baseball field.
That was the type of performance he had on Saturday night against the Seattle Mariners. Ohtani was the starting pitcher and batted third in the order behind Luis Rengifo and Mike Trout. At the plate, Ohtani went 1-for-2 with an RBI and a walk.
His RBI came in the first inning, when he narrowly missed a two-run home run, but settled for a double that scored Trout from first base. His RBI in the first inning gave the Angels one of their two runs needed to secure a 2-1 victory. But as a pitcher is where he was truly magnificent.
Against a playoff-bound Mariners team, Ohtani tossed 7.0 shutout innings — 107 pitches — in which he gave up just three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. In fact, no Mariners baserunner ever touched second base safely in his seven innings.
His pitching performance was praised by Mariners manager Scott Servais, who specifically complimented Ohtani’s use of off-speed pitches, according to Megan Garcia of MLB.com:
“He just changed the shapes,” Seattle manager Scott Sevais said of Ohtani’s arsenal. “The focus on Ohtani is you’ve got to get the ball up. He throws 100 mph, but he doesn’t [have to]. He gets you out with all the sliders.”
Ohtani’s season pitching stats are almost difficult to believe given that he is also a hitter with a near-.900 OPS and 146 wRC+. In 148.0 innings, Ohtani holds an ERA of 2.43, a WHIP of 1.041, and has 196 strikeouts compared to just 36 walks.
“I don’t like to self-critique myself in any way,” Ohtani said. “One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I’m having a better season this year than I had last year.”
Ohtani, who often leaves debates about his abilities to other people, argues that he has improved from his historic 2021 season. The stats appear to back it up, as he is a noticeably better and more in-control pitcher. And although his stats at the plate are slightly decreased, he is still worlds ahead of an average MLB hitter.
Luis Rengifo plays hero in opener
While Ohtani is the main story from the Saturday night meeting between the Angels and Mariners, it was Rengifo making headlines after the opener. His three-hit, two-homer, and four-RBI performance guided the Angels offense to eight total runs, enough to defeat the Mariners 8-7.