To the moon! Ohtani rockets HR 118 mph, 462 feet

June 26th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Breaking records is something Shohei Ohtani does with some regularity. Sometimes, those records happen to be his own.

That was the case in the Angels’ 5-3 loss to the Mariners on Saturday at Angel Stadium. Facing the Mariners’ Logan Gilbert in the bottom of the third, Ohtani crushed a solo shot to right-center field that left his bat at a staggering 118 mph, per Statcast. Ohtani’s 16th homer of the season was the hardest-hit home run of his career, and the hardest-hit homer for the Angels since Statcast began tracking in 2015. His previous high for a homer -- the former record -- was 117.2 mph. It’s also the hardest anyone not named Giancarlo Stanton has hit out this year.

Ohtani’s homer traveled a projected 462 feet, which is the fourth-longest of his career. His personal best is 470 feet, done against the Royals on June 8, 2021. It’s the 15th-longest projected distance for a home run in the Majors this year, and the second-longest by an Angel, behind Mike Trout (472 feet).

Angels starter Patrick Sandoval said he was in the dugout tunnel at the time of Ohtani’s blast, but it was loud enough that he could hear it. By the time he got back up, the ball was “already in the crowd.”

It was the fifth homer Ohtani has hit during a game started by Sandoval this year, the most of any member of the Angels’ rotation.

“It’s awesome,” Sandoval said. “I'm not gonna complain about it. It's awesome. I love it. I just tell him every time, ‘I need one.’”

“It's just another ‘wow’ moment for him,” said Angels interim manager Phil Nevin. “I love the way his at-bats [are going]. I think I said it at the end of last week, he's really, really close. And he’s swung it great all week.”

It’s been a week full of “wow” moments for Ohtani, who on Tuesday vs. the Royals hit two three-run home runs and picked up a career-high eight RBIs, the most in an MLB game from a Japanese-born player. For good measure, the two-way star struck out a career-high 13 batters over eight scoreless innings the next day.

The feats at the plate are part of an encouraging recent trend for Ohtani after a somewhat slow start to the season that saw him with an OPS below .700 as late as May 8. Over his last 12 games, Ohtani’s hit .333 (15-for-45) with four homers, two doubles and a triple, raising his OPS from .778 to .832.

And Ohtani came close to adding yet another long ball to his line late in Saturday’s contest. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth and a runner on first, the Mariners intentionally walked Mike Trout after Mariners reliever Erik Swanson threw a fastball up and in that came close to Trout’s head. That brought Ohtani to the plate with the Angels trailing by 2.

Asked about the decision to bring Ohtani to the plate representing the winning run, Mariners manager Scott Servais said, “You’re going to have to roll the dice once in a while. I know a great hitter is coming up in Ohtani. He hit the ball really hard, and we caught a break.”

The Mariners did, indeed, catch a break, as Ohtani barreled an 0-1 splitter to right at 104.2 mph. But he didn’t quite get enough of it, and the ball landed in Taylor Trammell’s glove for the final out and a second straight Angels loss.

“He just missed the last one,” said Nevin. “He hits it that hard, but it topspinned on him. … Just missed the last ball, but certainly didn't miss the home run. That was a ‘wow’ one, for sure.”