Ohtani adds to monster June with incredible 2-HR, 10-K night

June 28th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- It could go down as one of the best months by a player in Major League history.

Two-way superstar  continued his scorching hot June with yet another incredible showing, as he struck out 10 over 6 1/3 strong innings and also went 3-for-3 with two homers to lift the Angels to a 4-2 win over the White Sox on Tuesday night at Angel Stadium.

It marked the first time Ohtani had ever homered twice in a game that he’d pitched in, and he now leads the Majors with 28 blasts this season. He also became just the sixth player since 1900 to hit two homers in a game and strike out at least 10 batters; he's the first AL player to do it since 1963.

​​“It’s a wow factor,” manager Phil Nevin said. “We're seeing things every day that we've never seen before and you try not to take it for granted. And I don't think any of us do. I understand how special it is. But I also understand how special the person is to our room and what he brings to us every day.”

Ohtani, the AL MVP in 2021 and the runner-up last year, has slashed .383/.473/.915 with 13 homers, seven doubles, two triples, four stolen bases and 26 RBIs in 24 games in June. He's posted a 3.26 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings across five starts this month as well.

“Every game somehow seems to get crazier the more I watch him play,” said catcher Chad Wallach. “Watching him pitch like that and go hit two homers like that, somehow it still surprises you every time.”

Ohtani’s latest performance came with some concern, as he exited the mound in the seventh inning with head athletic trainer Mike Frostad because he was dealing with a cracked fingernail. Ohtani, though, remained in the game as a hitter and homered in his next at-bat, crushing a solo shot to left field for his 15th career multihomer game and his third this season.

Ohtani wasn’t particularly worried about the fingernail after the game, but he said he doesn’t know when he’ll make his next start and was noncommittal about participating in the Home Run Derby as a result.

“It was a small crack before the game, but it gradually got worse,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I haven’t really discussed my next outing yet. But I think I got out of the game before it got too bad.”

For any worry his exit might have caused, Ohtani’s homer got the crowd going again, leading to loud “M-V-P” chants ringing throughout at Angel Stadium. Even though it’s not yet July, it’s hard to see anybody else putting up a season like Ohtani.

Ohtani has slashed .304/.386/.654 with 15 doubles, four triples and 64 RBIs in 79 games. In addition to homers, he leads the Majors in RBIs, total bases (200), extra-base hits (47) and OPS (1.040). And in 16 starts, he’s gone 7-3 with a 3.02 ERA and 127 strikeouts in 95 1/3 innings. His six games with at least 10 strikeouts rank second in MLB, and he leads all qualified pitchers with a .180 batting average against.

“A similar thing happened in 2021 and it’s always good hearing that from the fans,” Ohtani said of the MVP chants. “It gives me motivation to get better.”

It was clear from the first inning that was going to be Ohtani’s night, as he hurled a 1-2-3 opening frame with two strikeouts, then proceeded to smash a solo shot in the bottom of the inning off right-hander Michael Kopech. It marked the third time he’d homered in his last four starts on the mound.

"He’s extremely talented,” said White Sox manager Pedro Grifol. “He’s probably the best player in the game, so he was tough to hit and he’s tough to pitch to."

Ohtani went back out for the seventh at 91 pitches and gave up a leadoff single to Eloy Jiménez before walking Yasmani Grandal with one out. Pitching coach Matt Wise went out to visit Ohtani at the mound and was later joined by Nevin and Frostad. Ohtani ended up being lifted after 102 pitches and was relieved by , who allowed an inherited runner to score.

It was the only run was charged to Ohtani, who gave up four hits and two walks. He proved his fingernail issue doesn’t affect his hitting with his blast in the seventh.

“He throws 100 pitches, comes out of the game and hits another home run,” said White Sox third baseman Jake Burger. “What he’s doing is pretty incredible when you see it with your own eyes."