September 30, 2023

Shohei Ohtani’s dominant night at the plate overcomes his subpar pitching night as Angels extend win streak to five

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Los Angeles Angels (35-30) celebrated Christmas early this year with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners (30-32) Friday night at Angel Stadium during their annual “Christmas in June” night.

Home plate to Los Angeles with a dominant performance from phenomenon Shohei Ohtani, along with a homer from Mickey Moniak. The two helped take the Angels’ winning streak to five in a row.

Ohtani stole the show at the plate when he swung for his 17th home run of the season, hitting a monstrous two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.

His offensive display made up for his shaky start on the mound after allowing Jarred Kelenic an early two-run home run in the first inning. Ohtani was 3-for-4 on the night, doubled and singled on his home run. He fell short on the cycle three times. He also pitched five innings, giving up three hits and three runs while striking out six.

Shohei Ohtani, left, gets a Kabuto from a bat boy after hitting a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night in Anaheim, California.  (AP Photo/Mark J Terrill)

Shohei Ohtani, left, gets a Kabuto from a bat boy after hitting a two-run home run against the Seattle Mariners on Friday night in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo/Mark J Terrill)

Ohtani’s pitching seems to have declined compared to his last two seasons. He walked Mariners batters five times that night, three of which came in the first inning. Ohtani says he needs to make some adjustments for the rest of the season, and he’s also working on recovery and fatigue.

“[I need to work] not only on my sweeper, but also on my speed and my fastball, and also on recovery. [My hard days] be the next day or two after whelping, and see how my body reacts, as far as pain goes,” Ohtani said through a translator.

Angels manager Phil Nevin spoke about Ohtani’s performance so far this season.

“He’s had some slow starts in games, he’s walked the lead-off hitter, I don’t know how many times this season. I feel like he did it his first four or five starts this year, but he always came back and those were his better games,” said Nevin. “Only five [walks] is too much, and he will tell you the same. I know he will do his best and be better next time.”

The 6-4, 220-pound two-way player is looking to make his third All-Star appearance at this year’s All-Star Game in Seattle. Ohtani is third in the American League in home runs (17), seventh in RBI (44), fourth in hits (69), third in slugging percentage (.563), and placing in the top 15 for ERA (3.32) among pitchers.

In 2021, Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to be selected as an All-Star as a batter and pitcher, and now that the All-Star voting is open, he hopes to do so again.

Moniak swung for a big two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Angels up 5-3. He talked about his evolution as a hitter.

“I was beaten with the heat my first two at bats, and I came back, and in that situation I just try to put a good hit on it,” said Moniak. “Going into this year I had a bit of a mindset change, I kept going [2022] And [2021] in Philly. The ups and downs had touched me a bit, I had become a bit sensitive. But I’ve been working and feel confident with my swing coming in.”

These appearances came against a talented pitcher in Luis Castillo, who is eighth in the American League in ERA (2.70).

The Mariners appeared dominant in the first three innings, holding the Angels to just one hit and no runs. Los Angeles caught fire on Ohtani’s homer in the third, followed by Luis Rengifo’s RBI single in the fourth and Moniak’s go-ahead swing in the sixth.

The Mariners nearly got back into the game on a ninth-inning home run by Mike Ford, who had been pulled from the minors on June 1, and brought the game within one run. But the Angles held on and snuck away with the win after Mike Trout caught a deep ball to seal the win.

The Angels play Seattle in Anaheim twice more this weekend, and they will need Ohtani to continue his dominance to continue climbing the American League standings.

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