The Los Angeles Angels faced the Seattle Mariners on Friday night in both team’s final series before the All-Star break. The Angels led 2-0 in the top of the third with superstar Shohei Ohtani at the plate. And like he’s done so many other times this season, he turned a normal game into a signature moment.
On a 1-2 count with one out in the inning, Ohtani took a sinker high in the strike zone a whopping 463 feet, hitting the upper deck at T-Mobile Park. It was just the sixth home run since the park’s opening in 1999 to reach that distance, and it caught the attention of just about everyone within earshot, including Angels starter Alex Cobb and Mariners eventual hero Mitch Haniger.
Cobb — who pitched 5.1 innings and gave up two unearned runs — was amazed at Ohtani’s abilities, saying his jaw dropped when he saw the ball leave his bat, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I know we talk about Shohei all the time, but we don’t talk about him enough,” said right-hander Alex Cobb, who gave up two unearned runs over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision. “He’s incredible. I was on the bench and my jaw dropped. I put a towel over my face because I couldn’t believe where it ended up.”
Even though he’s seen this just about every day, it never becomes any less unbelievable. Meanwhile, Haniger — who hit the game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning — said Ohtani was a special player who he hoped wouldn’t do any more damage to the Mariners this series.
“That’s a long one,” said Mariners designated hitter Mitch Haniger, who hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth. “He’s a special player, man. I really hope we keep his bat quiet the next couple games heading into the break. But you have to give credit where credit’s due, and that guy’s a phenomenal player on the mound, in the box. It’s both, and it’s really impressive watching him play.”
Ohtani’s home run on Friday was his 16th in the past 21 games. It’s the first time in MLB history that an American League player has reached that milestone. Overall, he’s the seventh ever to do it, with National Leaguers Barry Bonds, Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Kyle Schwarber all achieving this feat.
The Angels two-way star is just two games away from what is arguably the greatest first half in MLB history. Now, the question is about what can he do in the second half of the season, especially once his teammates are healthy.
Small mistakes lead to Angels loss
Ohtani’s big fly in the third inning gave the Angels a 3-0 lead. However, it was the last run they would score the rest of the way. The Mariners steadily chipped away at the deficit, tying the game at three in the seventh inning. Then, Haniger hit a grand slam in the eighth to give the Mariners a 7-3 win. Maddon chalked the loss up to small mistakes made throughout the night.