At a certain point, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is going to run out of ways to make history. It feels as though every time he steps onto the diamond, he does something that catches the attention of everyone in the sports world.
Thursday night against the Oakland Athletics was another one of those outings. In his final start at Angel Stadium this season, Ohtani started things off by walking leadoff batter Tony Kemp. His fastball was slower than usual, so he almost completely abandoned it.
He proceeded to retire the next 22 batters he faced, falling just four outs shy of his first career no-hitter, even including his days in Japan. With two outs in the eighth inning, he gave up back-to-back singles to Conner Capel and Dermis Garcia before finally securing the final out of the frame.
In total, Ohtani tossed 108 pitches over 8.0 shutout innings. He allowed just two hits — two of the last three batters he faced — and one walk — the first batter of the game — to go along with 10 strikeouts. He was purely dominant.
Ohtani, ever so humble, described his perspective on the outing and the decision to abandon the fastball early on, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“To be honest, I wasn’t really feeling my fastball,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “The velo wasn’t as fast as normal, but my slider was doing its thing and it was working. So I’m kind of surprised, with my stuff today, that I got through eight innings.”
Ohtani also went 2-for-4 with an RBI single in the first inning. The nearly flawless outing on the mound puts him at 161.0 innings on the season, one shy of being eligible for major statistical categories. In that time, he’s 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA, a 1.031 WHIP, and a league-leading 11.9 K-per-nine ratio.
“Nothing that Shohei does really surprises me because I think the sky’s the limit,” catcher Max Stassi said. “He can do anything in this game. He’s proven that. He’s continuing to get better. As a former MVP, the bar is set high. The expectations are high. And he lives up to those, and he tries to overshoot those even more the following year.”
While Ohtani’s batting numbers have seen a slight decrease from his unanimous MVP in 2021, all signs point to the argument that the Angels two-way star has been better in 2022. He is now firmly in legitimate Cy Young contention while still holding an OPS of nearly .900 with 34 home runs and 94 RBIs.
As for the rest of the game, Luis Rengifo, Taylor Ward, and Max Stassi all homered in a 4-2 Angels victory.
Ohtani should have one more start against the Athletics in Oakland, meaning one more chance to mystify the baseball world.
Carlos Correa calls Ohtani ‘Best player’
Minnesota Twins star shortstop Carlos Correa had high praise for Ohtani following their most recent series against the Angels. He said that there may be an argument for Ohtani to be the best player in MLB history, given what he has done on the mound and at the plate in his first five seasons.