Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is having an unbelievable month as a batter. Since June 5, Ohtani has an OPS of 1.385 to go with 16 homes runs and 27 RBI’s. His hot streak at the plate — as well as continued success on the mound — have vaulted him to American League MVP favorite and becoming the first player to ever be selected to the MLB All-Star Game as a pitcher and a hitter.
This is why Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora was on the edge of his seat when Ohtani came to the plate in a big spot on Monday night. The Angels trailed 5-3 heading to the bottom of the ninth inning. However, some timely hitting from the bottom of the Angels order allowed Ohtani to bat with runners on first and second in a one-run game.
Cora spoke about what went through his mind when Ohtani came to the plate, saying it was reminiscent of Barry Bonds in his prime, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“It seems like every pitch, when he’s at the plate, you can hear the oohs and aahs and I think it’s great for baseball,” Cora said. “Adam did an amazing job against him. I think we did a great job tonight, but he’s a threat, pretty similar to when Barry [Bonds] was doing his thing. It felt that way. Everybody was into every pitch, every swing. It’s great for baseball.”
Luckily for the Red Sox, Ohtani ripped a baseball 101 mph directly into the shift. Second baseman Christian Arroyo, who was playing in shallow right field, was able to field a difficult one-hopper to end the game.
Ohtani still got incredible contact and was just unlucky with the placement. Had it gotten through, the game would have been tied at 5 with runners at the corners for All-Star Jared Walsh.
It’s difficult to compare Ohtani to Bonds, given that Ohtani is also a pitcher and that Bonds — in his prime — was perhaps the greatest hitter in baseball history. However, this is still significant praise from Cora, who has seen Ohtani do remarkable things up close multiple times this season.
Ohtani unlikely to pitch and hit on Tuesday
Normally, when Ohtani is the starting pitcher for the Angels, Joe Maddon will forfeit the designated hitter spot in order to have him hit as well. They may not have that luxury on Tuesday against the Red Sox, as injuries have decimated the Angels depth.