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Shohei Ohtani has 2 dazzling days to remember for the Angels


ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — On consecutive nights at an otherwise ordinary homestand for the Los Angeles Angels in June, Shohei Ohtani accomplished two feats that would each be career milestones for virtually any other player in the league. history of baseball.

On Tuesday, Ohtani hit a pair of three-run homers and made a career-high eight runs, the most by a Japanese-born player in the major leagues.

On Wednesday, Ohtani racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts while throwing eight two-hit scoreless innings, striking out 16 consecutive Kansas City Royals and getting 24 no-hitters against his last 24 batters.

This two-way superstar continues to invent new ways to dazzle the baseball world.

A year after winning the unanimous AL MVP award in honor of his totally unprecedented season, Ohtani is still finding new places to put his name in the major league record books while striving to bring back the Angels (34-38) in perpetual trouble. a winning track.

Nearly halfway through a second straight season of groundbreaking play, Ohtani’s unique skills are normalizing to a degree that would have seemed impossible before he reached full power last year – yet his fans and his Halos comrades never take it for granted.

“Watching him every day, you think you get used to the greatness, but there’s a lot involved with him,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “Just the way his mind is in the game, he’s aware of everything. He is incredible. To see what he does on a baseball field is fun to be part of every day.

Ohtani (6-4) saw his performances in more practical terms Wednesday night after picking up his third straight win and moved up to fifth in the AL in strikeouts despite two or three fewer starts than everyone else above him.

“We were on a losing streak, and I just wanted to end that, to get the team rolling,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “That’s what the team needed.”

No player had ever accomplished the combined feat of eight RBIs and at least 10 strikeouts in consecutive games – not Babe Ruth, and no one else since ancient times.

No player in baseball history had ever had both an eight-RBI game and a 13-out game separately, but Ohtani did it on back-to-back nights at the Big A. Tony Cloninger got closer the most with a 10-out game and a nine-game RBI game for Atlanta during the 1966 season.

Despite being less than halfway through, Ohtani begins a remarkable encore of his breakthrough MVP season.

His pitching numbers are mostly ahead of last year, with his strikeouts up and his walks and ERA down. His hit numbers are still a step behind last year’s pace, but are growing rapidly: he’s batting .301 in 22 games since May 29 with six home runs and 16 RBIs.

Ohtani has a 2.90 ERA, and the sheer diversity of her pitching repertoire remains daunting. Kansas City’s Mike Matheny had never seen Ohtani pitch against one of his teams as a manager until Wednesday night, and the experience was eye-opening.

“I don’t think you’re going to find as many guys with as many guns as we saw today,” Matheny said. “He was throwing everything for strikes, and he mixed it all up. It was throwing three different sliders, plus a cutter and a curve. When the split started, that’s when the strikeouts really started to happen, and he’s got 100 (mph) in the tank that he almost never showed. You control the strike zone, you have so many things to use and you throw them all for strikes, it’s going to be a tough day at the plate.

Ohtani achieves his last unprecedented feats in another year of ups and downs for the Angels, who haven’t had a winning season with Ohtani on their roster — or won a career playoff game much more. long from fellow MVP Mike Trout.

Los Angeles started 24-13 and was in first place in the AL West on May 16, but the Angels quickly fell into a losing streak that extended to a franchise-record 14 games and resulted in the dismissal of manager Joe Maddon.

Ohtani ended it, of course: He pitched seven four-hit innings and hit a two-run homer on June 9 for a 5-2 win over Boston. With Wednesday’s win over Kansas City, the Angels have won four of their last six under Nevin, Ohtani’s fourth manager in five seasons in Orange County.

The Angels still have plenty of time to turn around their season, and expanding the playoff field would make it easier than ever for Los Angeles to end its decade of underperformance. And Ohtani shows no sign of fatigue from the struggles of the angels, although he would have every right to.

Angel Stadium gave him a standing ovation Wednesday night after his seventh shutout inning, but Ohtani told Nevin he insisted on returning for the eighth.

“I felt like I still had stuff in the tank,” Ohtani said.

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