Ohtani’s hot stretch on the mound started on June 9, when his seven innings of one-run baseball ended their franchise-record losing streak. He followed it up with six shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners and in Wednesday’s game, he hurled eight shutout innings and set a career-high with 13 strikeouts.
His emotion on a baseball field is as good as it gets from an onlooker’s perspective. Ohtani’s ability at the plate and the mound makes him one of the most polarizing players in all of Major League Baseball and a rock for the Angels, via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“He just put us on his back,” interim manager Phil Nevin said. “It was just impressive. I thought about taking him out after the seventh but he was adamant, ‘This is mine.’ What a day, what a performance by him.”
It was the first time this season that Ohtani has completed eight innings and landed 71 of his 108 pitches for strikes. Although his pitch count was high, Nevin opted to let his ace pitch the eighth:
“When I saw 99 in the seventh, I knew he wasn’t gassed, at all,” Nevin said. “He wanted [the eighth] and he’s earned it.”
“Watching it every day, you think you get used to the greatness but there’s a lot of things involved with him,” Nevin said. “Just the way his mind is in the game. He’s aware of everything. He’s incredible. To see what he does on a baseball field, it’s fun to be a part of every day.”
Understanding what Ohtani can do on a baseball field and just how rare of a talent he is understood by many and he is set up to receive a massive contract after the 2023 season. His 2.90 ERA on the mound and 131 wRC+ at the plate are remarkable, and he is only improving those numbers during this stretch.
Fans get to appreciate his talent watching him play nearly every day, but opposing players on the field also recognize how great the two-way star is:
“There’s still the ‘wow’ factor,” said Kansas City’s Whit Merrifield. “Nobody else is doing what he’s doing. Definitely just a unique, once-in-a-generation-type player, and it’s fun to share the field with him.”
Performing his best in a scenario when a ‘stopper’ wasn’t needed proves Ohtani will rise to any moment and create his own playoff scenario. Because after digging themselves a massive hole, every win matters, and it will take their star players to carry the load.
Ohtani makes more history against Royals
The Angels have been in a state of flux over the last month despite a star-studded roster, and that was on display again as the incredible talent of Ohtani was flashed on Tuesday night in a loss against the Kansas City Royals.
Ohtani hit two home runs and became the first player born in Japan to have eight RBI in a game in MLB history. He also became the eighth player in Angels history to achieve that feat.
The 12-11 loss became just the fifth time in MLB history that a single player had eight or more RBI in a game his team lost. It’s also the second time that’s happened in Angels’ history (Lee Thomas, 1961).