Ohtani hits MLB-high 14th HR (and enjoys it)

Two-way star's third straight game with a dinger

May 19th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- No one in baseball is doing what Shohei Ohtani is right now, and the Angels' two-way star added to his growing case for AL MVP with his MLB-leading 14th homer on Tuesday night.

Ohtani hit his third homer in as many games -- and fourth in five -- off Cleveland's Zach Plesac in the first inning at Angel Stadium, sending it 440 feet to straightaway center at 111.9 mph. And Ohtani made the most of it, staring at the path of the ball as he walked up the first-base line.

Despite the booming homer, which helped erase a five-run deficit, the Angels fell to the Indians, 6-5.

"I mean yeah, he's a superstar,” Plesac said. “Pitch is the outer half, a little bit up. ... You see what he did to the ball at his chest yesterday, and now he's got balls down and away going to center field. He's just a special talent. Kudos to him."

The homer cut the Angels' deficit to 5-1 and came in a spot where the Angels were looking for a jolt of momentum after a rough first inning that had them go down five runs. It also came on a day in which Mike Trout landed on the injured list and could be out 6-8 weeks.

“It definitely helps to get you back on your feet,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “You know, you go down for that standing eight count, and then all of a sudden you're okay again. It was big and properly struck on top of that. And we just kept moving it forward.”

Ohtani’s impact on the Angels' offense didn’t stop with his first-inning swing.

In the fourth inning, he led off with a single to center, setting the tone for the Halos to make some noise. His knock was followed by a single from Anthony Rendon, and both runners came home on a three-run blast off Justin Upton’s bat.

With Trout expected to be out for an extended period of time, Ohtani will be counted on to fill the void of the three-time AL MVP. Aside from leading the Majors in homers, Ohtani also has a team-high 33 RBIs, while adding a .956 OPS.

Maddon said Ohtani understands the importance of his play both in the batter’s box and on the mound. Now that the Halos will be without Trout for the time being, Ohtani’s impact is more emphasized.

“Shohei knows that and he wants that,” Maddon said. “That's the beauty of this man. What's he? 26 now, I believe. He's getting the opportunity to do exactly what he’d like to do and that's play both sides of the baseball. He's gonna be all that. We just got to keep him well, we got to talk to him and listen to him. There's no reason to believe or expect that it will not continue that way.”

The homer gave Ohtani seven dingers in 13 career games against Cleveland. He is scheduled to start on the mound against the Indians on Wednesday, but whether MLB’s current home run leader has a chance to further his lead while he pitches is undecided.

Following Tuesday’s loss, Maddon said he and Ohtani had not spoken yet to decide whether he will pull double-duty for the fourth time this season.

As a pitcher, Ohtani is 1-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his five starts.

In games that he has used his two-way abilities, Ohtani has done well with the limited opportunities. At the plate, he has gone 4-for-10 with a double, a home run and three RBIs. On the mound, he has pitched a total of 16 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs to go along with 26 strikeouts.