Shohei Ohtani reached an incredible milestone this week while he led the Los Angeles Angels to a 9-4 win over the Texas Rangers. Ohtani did something no MLB player has done since Babe Ruth in 1921: making a start as a pitcher while entering with the league-wide lead in home runs.
Ohtani’s achievement Monday was amazing, striking out nine Rangers after a shaky first inning on the mound and scoring three runs on the opposite side, solidifying the Angel’s victory against the Texas Rangers. The Angels manager Joe Maddon was impressed by his player’s performance, gushing it was “a pretty complete game of baseball. If you weren’t entertained by watching him tonight, you can’t be entertained watching the game of baseball.”
The pitches he threw demonstrated incredible power and command of the mound, and his start as a pitch on Monday’s game came a day after hitting his seventh homer, tying for the MLB lead. Babe Ruth accomplished the feat in 2021, as the starting pitcher for the New York Yankees against Detroit on June 13 with his home run lead. Now, 100 years later, Ohtani gives Ruth a run for his money.
Shohei Ohtani had a rough start on the mound, giving up four runs with 28 pitches in the first inning, walking two, hitting a batter, and throwing one wild pitch. When Ohtani came up to bat in the second, though, he evened the score 4-4, scoring a two-run double and then a single by Mike Trout.
“I was able to drive in those two runs, that was huge for me, and we were able to tie the game up in the second inning,” Ohtani explained through his translator Ippei Mizuhara. “So it felt like a fresh start, I treated it like a brand new ballgame.”
Once he regained his confidence and composure, Ohtani became an unstoppable force, striking rangers out left and right. “I try to separate pitching and hitting while I’m doing both,” Ohtani admitted, “but putting those runs on the board does lead to confidence … That first inning I had, I need to not repeat that again, and I need to adjust and work on that before my next outing.”
Maddon agreed with Ohtani, believing that it was his second-inning success that boosted his play throughout the remainder of the game. “That definitely helped him settle back in,” Maddon said. “That’s a reboot right there.”
Shohei Ohtani went on to retire 13 batters in a row before Isiah Kiner-Falefa earned a two-out single in the fifth inning. He had a stretch of five straight strikeouts, achieving a 99.3 mph fastball. “That first inning was terrible,” Ohtani admitted, “so I can’t be fully satisfied. I think it’s mechanics, more than anything. And I felt like my mechanics were better from the second inning on.”
The Angels eventually pulled Ohtani from the mound after 75 pitches, citing a developing blister on his right middle finger. It’s a minor one, according to Ohtani, nothing like the one that limited him to three starts this season. He wants back in on the lineup Tuesday and his next pitching start is against the Rays next Monday.
Speaking about the blister his 75-pitches formed on his finger, Ohtani said: “I’m not worried at all. It’s different from my last one and was barely starting to form. I felt like I could’ve gone another inning.” Ohtani had already help solidify the Angel’s win Monday by the time he was pulled, and he’d already matched Babe Ruth’s incredible achievement and boosted his stats – there were wins all around.
The win is special, but the awesome spectacle was another thing entirely. From the sidelines, fans watched in awe at Shohei Ohtani’s incredible performance. “When he goes through those moments,” Maddon said, “you just have to fasten your seatbelt and watch.”