As per usual, Ohtani re-enters history books

August 18th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Two-way star is heating up at the plate.

Ohtani went 4-for-5 with a homer, a triple and four RBIs in an 11-7 loss against the Mariners on Wednesday, a day after he went 3-for-4. It was also the second straight game with a triple for Ohtani, who had never tripled in back-to-back games in his career in the Majors or in Japan.

He also extended his hitting streak to five games, and is batting .526 (10-for-19) with two homers, two triples and six RBIs over that span.

“He had a great day, and has been swinging it good,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “He took advantage of some defensive positioning, and understands what he’s got to do with runners on base.”

With his triple, Ohtani rejoined his own exclusive club, as he’s the only player in AL or NL history to make at least 20 starts on the mound and hit five triples at the plate in the same season. He also did it during his AL MVP campaign last year, when he was tied for the American League lead with eight triples and had a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts. This year, Ohtani has five triples and a 2.69 ERA in 20 starts. And he’s again a top candidate for the AL MVP Award, along with Yankees superstar Aaron Judge.

It was also his 20th career triple, which helped him make even more history. He’s only the second player to debut in 1920 or later and record 20 career triples and 20 career wins on the mound, joining Johnny Cooney, per Stats by STATS. Cooney had 26 career triples and 34 wins during his 20-year career from 1921-1944.

Ohtani, 28, is batting .265/.356/.519 with 27 homers, 17 doubles and 72 RBIs in 114 games. His .875 OPS is the highest it's been at any point this season. He had a .965 OPS in '21.

Ohtani quickly extended his hitting streak with a single in the first inning on an 0-1 changeup from right-hander George Kirby. Ohtani hit it on the ground, but hard, with an exit velocity of 104.6 mph. He made more hard contact in the fifth on an RBI single off Kirby on a 1-0 curveball. Ohtani lined it into center field to score  with a 101.5 mph velocity off the bat.

His RBI triple came in the seventh on an 0-1 fastball from right-handed reliever Penn Murfee to score from first base. He lined it into the right-field corner, with the ball leaving the bat at 102.3 mph, and reached third base easily.

He homered in the ninth to make it a four-run game, a two-run shot off right-hander Matthew Festa on a 1-1 slider. It was his fourth hit with an exit velocity of at least 100 mph, as it left the bat at 102.9 mph and went a projected 396 feet. His 38 homers on non-fastballs are the most in the Majors dating back to last season, per Inside Edge.

“The home run at the end of the game made it even closer,” Nevin said. “If we score one more run there, they have to bring in their closer. You’re always thinking along those lines when the game is like that. But yeah, Sho was really good.”

Ohtani’s next start on the mound is scheduled to come on Sunday in Detroit against the Tigers. He’s scheduled to pitch every six days down the stretch, outside of two turns when the Angels have off-days. Ohtani has said he wants to keep his routine of pitching every six days the rest of the season. His 2.69 ERA ranks 10th in the Majors among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings, while he is tied for sixth with 165 strikeouts.

"He's one of a kind," said right-hander , who gave up four runs over 2 2/3 innings and got the loss. "You don't see that. I've hit in the National League and it's not easy. But he makes it look easy."