Hard-hitting Sho: Ohtani wallops 117 mph HR

May 26th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Two-way phenom capped a six-run fourth inning for the Angels in their 11-5 win over the Rangers Tuesday at Angel Stadium with a three-run blast off right-hander Brett de Geus that was absolutely crushed down the right-field line for his 15th homer of the season.

Ohtani jumped all over a 3-2 cutter on the inside part of the plate, keeping it just fair for his first homer since May 18. It had an exit velocity of 117 mph and went a projected 380 feet, per Statcast, making it the hardest-hit homer of his career by exit velocity, surpassing his previous career high of 115.2 mph.

"It was quick," Angels manager Joe Maddon said. "He hit it hard enough it couldn't hook foul. That's what I loved about it. I thought it would stay fair because he hit it too hard. It had a nice little baby draw on it and stayed fair."

It was also the hardest-hit homer by an Angels player since Statcast was introduced in 2015, as well as the sixth-hardest hit big fly by a player this season behind Franchy Cordero (118.6 mph), Giancarlo Stanton (118), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (117.4), Mike Zunino (117.3) and Stanton again (117.3).

The shot moved Ohtani into a tie for second in the Majors in homers with Atlanta’s Ronald Acuña Jr. and Texas' Adolis García. Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. went deep on Tuesday to give him the lead with 16 on the year.

Ohtani’s latest blast impressed teammate Jared Walsh, who has shown immense power himself, smacking a two-run shot in the second for his 11th homer -- his third over his last four games.

"I would assume for us mortals it's basically impossible, but Shohei plays by his own rules,” Walsh said. “Nothing surprises me at this point. It's like every day, it's something new."

It was yet another incredible showing for Ohtani, who is slated to make his seventh start on the mound on Thursday against the A’s in Oakland. He was scheduled to start Friday, but Maddon explained he made a mistake, as Ohtani was always scheduled to pitch Thursday.

Ohtani, who has a 2.37 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings, threw his bullpen session with no issues prior to Tuesday’s game. He showed a decline in velocity in his start last Wednesday against Cleveland, but he’s insisted that he’s not injured -- Ohtani pitched well in that game, allowing two runs over 4 2/3 innings with five strikeouts. He’s essentially getting one extra day of rest, as Patrick Sandoval made a spot start on Saturday to push him back one day.

"Nothing has really changed," Maddon said. "I thought I heard Friday, but then it became Thursday. It was my fault. It was a clerical error."

Ohtani went 1-for-3 with the homer and two walks against Texas and is batting .269/.326/.632 with 15 homers, 11 doubles, three triples, six stolen bases, 38 RBIs and 33 runs in 45 games as a hitter. He's only missed one of the Angels' 48 games this year, being held out of the lineup in the first game of Thursday's doubleheader against the Twins. He's also been in the lineup for four of his six starts on the mound.

"Every swing he takes right now looks like he can do that," Maddon said of Ohtani's home runs. "He's just in that moment, that zone. He's also accepting some walks, which I think has been beneficial also with regards to getting better pitches. But every swing he takes, it looks like he's going to have an exit velocity of at least 100 mph or better. It's really fascinating. He's that strong, he's that focused. And it's not surprising us from the bench."