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Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani works the first inning against the Texas Rangers during a baseball game on Monday, April 26, 2021, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
baseball

Ohtani wins for Angels in 2-way start like none since Babe Ruth

7 Comments
By STEPHEN HAWKINS

That was quite a two-way Sho in a big league start like none since Babe Ruth a century ago.

Shohei Ohtani struck out nine after a shaky first inning on the mound, and also scored three runs and drove in two as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Texas Rangers 9-4 on Monday night.

“A pretty complete game of baseball,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “If you weren’t entertained by watching him tonight, you can’t be entertained watching the game of baseball.”

A day after hitting his seventh homer to tie for the MLB lead, Ohtani (1-0) became the first home run leader to be the starting pitcher for a game since Ruth for the New York Yankees against Detroit on June 13, 1921. It was the second time this season Ohtani pitched and batted second.

After giving up four runs while throwing 28 pitches in the first inning — when he walked two, hit another batter and threw a wild pitch — Ohtani got the Angels even at 4-4 in the top of the second when he had a two-run double and then scored on a single by Mike Trout, who had four hits in his return to the lineup.

“I was able to drive in those two runs, that was huge for me, and we were able to tie the game up in the second inning,” Ohtani said through his translator. “So it felt like a fresh start, I treated it like a brand new ballgame.”

The Japanese right-hander retired 14 of the last 15 batters he faced in five innings, with all of his strikeouts in that span. It was his first big league win since 2018, before Tommy John surgery that kept him off the mound for all of 2019 and most of last season.

“I’m very happy for the team victory,” Ohtani said. “Personally that first inning was terrible, so I can’t be overly satisfied.”

Ohtani drew a one-out walk and scored on Jared Walsh's single in the Angels first. He bunted against the shift for a single in the sixth and scored on Walsh's double, and was done.

“He’s impressive. Clearly, he's vulnerable in the first inning, and he’s shown that twice against us,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “But, you know, to watch him settle down ... just amazing. Then he’s doing some things with the bat. You just don’t see kind of what he can do.”

Justin Upton and Albert Pujols put the Angels ahead to stay with back-to-back homers to start the third off Texas starter Jordan Lyles (1-2), who allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 2 2-3 innings. José Iglesias later went deep off Hyeon-Jong Yang, the lefty from South Korea making his big league debut.

Trout also had an RBI double while raising his average to .426. He had missed three games because of a bruised left elbow after getting hit by a pitch in the series opener at Houston on Thursday.

Texas led on Nate Lowe's sixth homer, a three-run shot that gave him an MLB best-matching 21 RBIs. David Dahl's sacrifice fly made it 4-1.

In his previous start on the mound, last Tuesday at home against the Rangers when he didn't bat, Ohtani became the first starting pitcher since at least 1901 with four scoreless innings with at least six walks and seven strikeouts. He allowed only one hit in the Angels’ 6-2 victory.

That was his first time on the mound since April 4 after dealing with a blister issue on the middle finger of his throwing hand. In that first start, Ohtani both smashed a 451-foot homer and pitched two-hit ball into the fifth inning against the Chicago White Sox.

Ohtani settled in needed only 47 pitches to get through the his final four innings, and was done after Maddon said he started to develop another blister. Ohtani said afterward it wasn't a big deal.

“His offensive performance tonight while he was pitching was a big contributor to our win,” Maddon said.

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7 Comments
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Running records up against the Babe, wow that is incredible. if he can get to ten plus wins and 20 plus homers he is MVP.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

I've been following his career with the Angels and am glad he's finally coming into his own. He's a superstar.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

 “If you weren’t entertained by watching him tonight, you can’t be entertained watching the game of baseball.”

Mystery solved!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

LOL no one is watching beisbol!!

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I have seen Ohtani play, and he is quite impressive. I wish him well. It must be especially hard, playing in a foreign land.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good for him, but until he can play an entire season injury free, consider me highly skeptical.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No records were set in this game and he cannot be compared to Babe Ruth for another few years AT LEAST. I get that the J-bandwagon loves him and he is a fairly good two-way player but let's see him doing it consistently, year in year out and against top playoff competition before we anoint him as the second coming. It's bad enough having to listen to Angels "fans" here who know absolutely nothing about the game and don't realize Mike Trout has been the best player on the planet for the last 7 or 8 years talk about only this guy as if he is the whole team.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

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