ANAHEIM, Calif. — The history books are continuing to be re-written, considering how dominant Shohei Ohtani has been on the mound and at the plate throughout his young career. Tuesday night’s 4-2 win against the White Sox included Ohtani launching two home runs and striking out 10 in 6.1 innings pitched, the first time in his career that he has hit two home runs while starting on the mound as well. Mike Moustakas provided an insurance run with a late RBI single and Carlos Estevez picked up his 20th save of the season as the Angels moved to 44-37 on the season, 7 games over .500.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Shohei Ohtani shows off two-way dominance and makes history yet again
Shohei Ohtani had a 1-2-3 first inning with 2 K’s before coming up for his first at-bat and launching a home run over the right field fence (10 rows deep). That put the Angels up 1-0 and Ohtani’s next two at-bats were a walk and a single. Then in the 7th inning he hit another home run, this time to the opposite field to left center field. “First homer, pitch came in a good spot, on second homer went with the second one, felt good” Ohtani said about his 2 home runs in his postgame interview, but that seemed too nonchalant and quite frankly downplayed how impressive the second home-run alone was.
The second home run, which Ohtani hit in the 7th inning, came on an off-speed well outside of the zone and Ohtani was able to hit it opposite field and launch it over left field fence. I doubt many other players in baseball, if any, would have been able to hit a home run on that pitch. That was Ohtani’s MLB leading 28th home run on the season and his first multi-home run game when he started on the mound and 15th overall multi-home run game.
Overall on Tuesday night Ohtani went 3-3 with 2 home runs and had a dominant 10 strikeout quality start, which is unheard of in the sport of baseball. Overall, Ohtani threw 6.1 innings, gave up 1 earned run, struck out 10, gave up 4 hits, and allowed just 1 walk. Ohtani has now had back-to-back 10+ strikeout outings where he has looked his best all season long, and has now lowered his ERA to 3.02.
If his pitching domination wasn’t enough justification for one to understand his greatness, Ohtani is also leading the MLB in home runs (28), OPS (1.040), and RBI’s (64) this season. Could one man really lead the Angels to their first playoff appearance since 2014? In a stacked American League (and AL West too for that matter) there is a lot more work to be done, but if Ohtani keeps this up and the Angels get healthier (with Zach Neto, Anthony Rendon, Matt Moore, and Ben Joyce coming back) then they could pull it off.
Angels crowd goes crazy for Moustakas, has first 2 hit game as an Angel
Every time he got a hit, you could hear the crowd chanting “MOOOOOOOOSE” for Mike Moustakas, and he delivered with 2 singles (including an RBI single that put the Angels up 4-1, which gave them some breathing room entering the 8th inning). For the first time in an Angels uniform, Moustakas (who was acquired from the Rockies following the Angels 25-1 win against them at Coors field Saturday night) had 2 hits and also turned on the burners and got to third base after a pick off from Gregory Santos went over Gavin Sheet’s head.
The chants continued for the home town kid, who went to Chatsworth High School, and whose family lives near Orange County and Angel Stadium. Moustakas is now hitting .279 with 4 home runs, 18 RBI’s, and an impressive OPS of .798 this season, all while having the versatility to play multiple positions. In just a few games Moustakas has already made his impact and has shown the Angels that he will be a pivotal piece in helping them make a playoff push.
Chris Devenski bounces back in a huge way
Entering Tuesday night’s game, Chris Devenski had been on a cold streak, giving up an atrocious 3 runs and 5 hits over his last 1.2 innings pitched. But Angels Manager Phil Nevin still had the guts to trust him in a pivotal situation only up 4-1 in the 8th inning and he delivered in a big way. Devenski struck out both Andrew Benintendi and the White Sox’ best hitter Luis Robert Jr., and even got Tim Anderson to ground out to third.
I asked Nevin about his faith in Devenski and he reiterated how instrumental he’s been to the team’s success, “His last two outings there was some bad luck…he’s been getting ground balls and he’s pitched so much and so well, I still have a ton of faith in him”. With Matt Moore and Ben Joyce still on the injured list, Devenski is going to continue to be relied upon in high leverage situations out of the bullpen.