Shohei Ohtani has two dazzling days to remember for the Angels

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — On back-to-back nights during an ordinary Los Angeles Angels homestay in June, Shohei Ohtani accomplished two feats that would be career milestones for virtually any other player in the history of the game. baseball.

On Tuesday, Ohtani hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high eight runs, the most by a Japanese-born player in the major leagues.

On Wednesday, Ohtani racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts while pitching eight shutout innings on two-hit ball, retiring 16 straight Kansas City Royals and getting 24 hitless outs against his last 24 batters.

This superstar who plays both ways keeps coming up with new ways to dazzle the baseball world.

A year after unanimously winning the AL MVP award in honor of his unprecedented season, Ohtani is still finding new places to inscribe his name in the major league record books as he strives to win back the Angels (34- 38), who fight perpetually. a winning track.

Nearly halfway through a second straight season of groundbreaking gameplay, Ohtani’s unique abilities are becoming normal to a degree that would have seemed impossible before he reached his full powers last year, but his fans and fellow Halos never did. they take for granted

“Watching him every day, you think you get used to greatness, but there are a lot of things involved with him,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “Just the way his mind is on the game, he’s on top of everything. It’s amazing. Seeing what he does on a ball field, it’s fun to be a part of every day.”

Ohtani (6-4) saw his performances in more practical terms Wednesday night after earning his third straight win and moving to fifth in the American League in strikeouts despite making two or three fewer starts than everyone else. Above him.

“We were on a losing streak, and I just wanted to put an end to that, make the team work,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “It’s what the team needed.”

No player had ever achieved the combined feat of eight RBIs and at least 10 strikeouts in consecutive games, not Babe Ruth, nor anyone else from the old two-way days.

No player in baseball history had ever had an eight-RBI game and a 13-strikeout game separately, but Ohtani did it on back-to-back nights in the Big A. Tony Cloninger came the closest with a 10-strikeout game. and one of nine. He played RBI for Atlanta during the 1966 season.

Though less than halfway done, Ohtani is starting a remarkable encore in his groundbreaking MVP season.

His pitching numbers are mostly up from last year, with more strikeouts and fewer walks and ERA. His batting numbers are still a step behind last year’s pace, but they’re rising fast: He’s hitting .301 in 22 games since May 29 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.

Ohtani has a 2.90 ERA, and the sheer diversity of his pitching repertoire continues to be overwhelming. Kansas City’s Mike Matheny had never seen Ohtani pitch against one of his managerial teams until Wednesday night, and the experience was eye-opening.

“I don’t think you’re going to find as many guys with as many guns as we saw today,” Matheny said. “He was throwing it all for strikes, and he mixed it up. He was throwing three different sliders, plus a cutter and a curveball. When the split started, that’s when the strikeouts really started happening, and he’s got 100 (mph) in the tank that hardly ever showed. You control the strike zone, you have a lot of stuff to use, and you’re throwing it all for strikes, it’s going to be a tough day at the plate.”

Ohtani is pulling off his latest unprecedented feats during another up-and-down year for the Angels, who haven’t had a winning season with Ohtani on their roster, nor won a playoff game during fellow MVP Mike Trout’s much longer career.

Los Angeles started 24-13 and was ranked first in the American League West on May 16, but the Angels quickly fell into a losing spiral that stretched to a franchise-record 14 games and resulted in the firing of the manager Joe Maddon.

Ohtani finished, of course: He pitched four-hit ball in seven innings and hit a two-run homer on June 9 for a 5-2 win over Boston. With Wednesday’s victory over Kansas City, the Angels have won four of their last six under Nevin, Ohtani’s fourth manager in five seasons in Orange County.

The Angels still have plenty of time to turn their season around, and the expanded playoff field would make it easier than ever for Los Angeles to end its decade of underperformance. And Ohtani shows no signs of tiring under the Angels’ struggles, though he would have every right.

Angel Stadium gave him a standing ovation Wednesday night after his scoreless seventh inning, but Ohtani told Nevin he insisted on coming back for the eighth.

“I felt like I still had some stuff in the tank,” Ohtani said.

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