ANAHEIM -- It turns out that pitching around Shohei Ohtani isn’t such a bad idea.
After the two-way star tied an AL/NL record by walking 11 times in a three-game span against the Astros and Mariners, Seattle decided to pitch to Ohtani in two key situations on Saturday. And Ohtani came through with nearly identical RBI triples in the first and third innings to help lift the Angels to a 14-1 win at Angel Stadium.
Ohtani also walked twice, giving him 13 over his last four games, which ties an AL/NL record set by Babe Ruth (1930), Bryce Harper (2016) and Yasmani Grandal (2021).
“His at-bats were outstanding,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “The fact that he's accepting walks right now, he's going to start hitting. They were forced to pitch once with the bases loaded, and he walked. But I like the way he's accepting his walks, and he's going to hit as well as he possibly can in the last week. We just have to get him some more pitches to drive."
Ohtani, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and three runs scored, became the first Angels player to triple in consecutive plate appearances in a game since Peter Bourjos on April 26, 2011 against Oakland. And he now has seven on the year, which is one off Arizona’s David Peralta’s MLB lead. He also remains one behind Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (46) and Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (46) for the MLB lead in home runs. He also has 98 RBIs and 99 runs scored in 148 games this year.
Angels superstar Mike Trout, the AL MVP Award winner in 2014, ’15 and ’19, said before the game that he believes that Ohtani should win the award this year.
"He's the MVP," Trout said. "He's just a truly amazing talent. What Vladdy is doing over there is unbelievable, and he's in the race. His [offensive] numbers might be a little bit better than Ohtani, but then you look at Vladdy's pitching -- and I haven't seen him pitch."
The Mariners walked Ohtani four times on Friday, including twice intentionally. One of those intentional walks came with the bases empty and one out in the ninth, as it appeared Seattle had no interest in letting him beat them. But after Brandon Marsh led off the first with a single on Saturday, left-hander Tyler Anderson went right after Ohtani, getting ahead of him with an 0-2 count. But Ohtani ripped a changeup down the right-field line for an RBI triple and scored on a groundout from Phil Gosselin to give the Angels an early 2-0 lead.
It was a similar situation in the third, when Marsh again led off with a single off Anderson. This time, Ohtani got ahead in the count, 3-0, and then laced a 3-2 cutter down the first-base line for his second RBI triple of the game. Gosselin followed with an RBI single to score Ohtani, and then the floodgates opened up for the Angels. They loaded the bases with nobody out and Jared Walsh brought home two runs with a single before Marsh was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
"Shohei and Marsh, it was like deja vu," Maddon said. "That first ball down the right-field line -- triple, and then that second ball down the line -- triple. And then it all just snowballed from there. I think everybody caught that wave.”
The Marsh plunking brought Ohtani to the plate with nowhere to put him, and he drew a six-pitch walk against reliever Yohan Ramirez for his third RBI of the game. Gosselin followed with an RBI single to give the Angels their first eight-run inning since May 30, 2017, against the Braves.
Ohtani’s big night at the plate came ahead of his 23rd start of the season on the mound on Sunday. He’s looking to reach both 10 wins and 150 strikeouts, as he's 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA and 146 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings.
“He’s going to pitch tomorrow and hit again,” Maddon said. “He’s just a different cat, a different animal.”
Gosselin and Walsh also each had four RBIs to pace the offense. They became the first pair of Angels to both have at least four RBIs in a game since Cliff Pennington and Albert Pujols each had four RBIs on Aug. 30, 2017, against Oakland. Rookie lefty Jhonathan Diaz allowed one run over seven innings to get his first career win.
“Diaz came in and defined that game,” Maddon said. “Give him credit. He came in and saved the bullpen.”