Quite a Sho: Ohtani ties Ruth, passes Ichiro in same game

Two-way star wins 10th game, moves into 2nd all-time in HRs for Japanese-born players

August 10th, 2022

OAKLAND -- Another night, another milestone. Such is the life of two-way superstar .

In Tuesday night's 5-1 win over the A's, Ohtani added not just one, but three feats to his already lengthy list of career accomplishments.

In short: Ohtani joined Babe Ruth in an exclusive club, moved up on the all-time home run list for Japanese-born players and set a single-season career high in strikeouts. Yes, all that in one night.

"I feel like every time we're out there, he does something special," interim manager Phil Nevin said. "Tonight, certainly another great milestone for him."

Here's a look into Ohtani's latest trio of accomplishments -- a chance for us to revel in the fact that we're all here to witness history being made.

Ohtani joins Babe Ruth's exclusive 10-homer, 10-win club

Ohtani tossed six scoreless innings to earn his 10th win of the season for the first time in his Major League career. He joins "The Babe" as the only two players in AL/NL history to win at least 10 games on the mound and hit at least 10 home runs in the same season. Ruth did it over 100 years ago, going 13-7 on the mound while going deep 11 times for the Red Sox in 1918.

Available records show that the feat has been accomplished twice in the Negro Leagues as well, with Ed Rile and Bullet Rogan rounding out the list. Rile went 11-6 with 11 homers for the Detroit Stars in 1927, while Rogan went 14-8 with 15 blasts for the Kansas City Monarchs in 1922.

Ohtani has been chasing that 10th win since last season, when he was stuck at nine wins in his final three starts of 2021. This season, he was again in a nine-win rut after dropping his previous three decisions, but everything finally came together on Tuesday.

"I knew I was eventually going to get it, if I kept pitching well," Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "Today we scored first, [Taylor Ward] hit that three-run home run. Hopefully we can keep it up, keep it going."

It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime accomplishments that even encourages accolades from the opposing dugout.

“It’s exceptional," A's manager Mark Kotsay said. "It shows his athleticism, shows his talent. At this point, you can say it’s one of a kind in the game, because it is. He’s the only player doing it right now, and [he's] doing it well.”

There was a brief scare in the third inning, when Ramón Laureano's comebacker struck Ohtani in the left foot. He made the play but was in visible pain afterward. Postgame X-rays were negative, with Nevin saying he expected Ohtani to be in the lineup for Wednesday's finale.

Ohtani passes his idol on the all-time list for home runs by Japanese-born players

Ohtani also went 2-for-3 with a walk at the plate on Tuesday, notably lining a solo shot off of A's lefty Sam Selman in the seventh inning. Ohtani's 118th career blast, which was scorched at 108.4 mph off the bat, gave him sole possession of second place on the all-time Major League home run list for Japanese-born players. That puts him ahead of Ichiro Suzuki, though Ohtani still has a ways to go before he catches Hideki Matsui's 175.

Of course, Ichiro was never a slugger -- of his 3,089 hits, fewer than 20% (575 total) went for extra bases -- but it was nevertheless special for Ohtani to surpass a player he had idolized while growing up.

"Obviously we're very different types of hitters," Ohtani said, "but if I get to pass Ichiro on any list, I'm really honored and privileged."

And it was only the second time this season that Ohtani has started and homered on the same day -- entering Tuesday, he had batted better than his season average on days that he pitched (.261 vs. .253), while slugging just .377 with one home run.

Ohtani sets a single-season career high in strikeouts -- and it's only August

Ohtani's five strikeouts brought him to 157 on the season, a new single-season high eclipsing last year’s 156. Going back to his days in Nippon Professional Baseball, he now has over 1,000 strikeouts between NPB (624) and MLB (379).

And he has ample opportunity to set a towering new personal best, with nearly two months' worth of games remaining on the schedule. Ohtani is on pace to set new career highs in appearances (his current high is 23) and innings pitched (130 1/3, his total from last season) as well, but he's not fixated on the numbers.

"I'm just focused on being able to play as many games as possible," Ohtani said. "Taking one game at a time and just trying to stay healthy."

In the light of all of these awe-inspiring feats and weighty comparisons, it is sometimes easy to forget that Ohtani has only been in the Majors for parts of five seasons -- though he of course entered the league as a five-time NPB All-Star. He's only 28 years old, but he has seemingly wowed the baseball world countless times in his short MLB tenure.

It leaves Ohtani's teammates, opponents and fans wondering what they're going to see next.

"You try not to take for granted what we're seeing every night, but it's pretty awesome to be a part of," Nevin said. "He's a great teammate in here; these things don't go by us lightly. … Certainly a really cool thing to be a part of."