The Los Angeles Angels went into Friday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners with a plan to have Shohei Ohtani pitch and hit, something he did not do in his last start. He wasn’t able to get much going at the plate, but it didn’t matter as he put together one of the most poised outings of his career. He even got the win thanks to a dazzling six-out save from Raisel Iglesias.
In 6.0 innings of work, Ohtani allowed just two earned runs on four hits and — for the first time in his career — didn’t walk a single batter. To add to that, he struck out 10 over 76 pitches. After allowing a leadoff home run to J.P. Crawford, everything seemed to work.
Mariners manager Scott Servais certainly took note of Ohtani’s command on the mound, specifically citing his unhittable split-finger, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“He’s got one of the special pitches in our game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “The Ohtani split-finger, it’s about as good as it gets. When he’s commanding it like he was tonight, it’s a real challenge. It’s as good a pitch as you’re gonna see in the league.”
On a normal night, Ohtani pitching at this caliber would be the main story. However, this was no ordinary night, as Iglesias put on a show that could be talked about for the rest of the season. In the eighth inning, reliever Mike Mayers loaded up the bases in just six pitches with no outs to show for it.
Iglesias was brought in for one of the most difficult six-out saves in MLB history. He responded by forcing a foul out and two strikeouts to get out of the eighth with no damage, then struck out two more in the ninth to secure the Angels victory. Iglesias gave his take on an electrifying moment.
“It was definitely one of the most complicated and exciting outings I’ve ever had in my entire carer,” Iglesias said through an interpreter. “It’s a situation you go in saying you have to keep your focus and try to do your job.”
This type of night is not only something to remember, it also could be a springboard for the rest of the pitching staff to follow suit. Pitching — once again — has been the team’s downfall early in the season. Despite that, there’s still plenty of time for them to force their way back into playoff contention.
Friday’s win gave a glimpse into what the Angels pitching staff can be at its best, and they’ll need it in order to win games consistently as the middle months of the season approach.
Joe Maddon believes playoff mentality is necessary in upcoming weeks
Angels manager Joe Maddon recently stated that the team needs to approach a lighter June schedule with a playoff mentality. Friday’s win certainly had a playoff atmosphere, meaning it could be the turning point they desperately needed.