OAKLAND — Anytime your performance summons the names of Babe Ruth and Ichiro Suzuki on the same night, it’s a pretty good night.
Shohei Ohtani reached a few significant milestones in the Angels’ 5-1 victory over the Oakland A’s on Tuesday night, doing it all after a comebacker hit him squarely in the foot in the third inning.
Ohtani pitched six scoreless innings to pick up his 10th victory of the season, which made him the first player in either of the two traditional major leagues to win 10 games and hit 10 homers in the same season since Ruth did so with the Boston Red Sox in 1918.
It also happened twice in the Negro Leagues after Ruth, by Ed Rile with the 1927 Detroit Stars and Bullet Rogan with the 1922 Kansas City Monarchs.
“I feel like every time every time we’re out there, he does something special and tonight is certainly another great milestone for him,” Manager Phil Nevin said.
Ohtani also blasted his 25th homer of the season, which was No. 118 for his career. That passed Suzuki for second on the all-time list among Japanese players. Suzuki, who reached the majors when Ohtani was 6, was one of Ohtani’s favorite players when he was growing up in Japan. Hideki Matsui hit 175 homers in the majors, the most among Japanese players.
“Obviously, we’re very different types of hitters but if I get to pass Ichiro on any list, I’m really honored and privileged,” Ohtani said through his interpreter.
It was the third time in Ohtani’s career that he hit a homer and picked up a victory in the same game, which he remarkably did only one time during his MVP season last year.
Ohtani also passed 1,000 strikeouts between the majors and Japan. He now has 379 strikeouts in the majors and 624 in Japan. His 157 strikeouts this season surpassed his total from last year.
It all made for quite a treat for the extra large contingent of Japanese media that had been following Ohtani during his quest for victory No. 10.
Ohtani had come up empty in his previous three starts. He also finished 2021 with nine victories, coming up short in his final three starts, so this was his seventh game sitting at the edge of a milestone. Although Ohtani gave up six runs in his July 22 start at Atlanta, in the two subsequent outings he pitched well enough to win. He gave up two and three runs.
But the Angels scored just one run while Ohtani was pitching in those three games combined.
“I knew I was eventually going to get it if I kept pitching well,” Ohtani said. “Today we scored first, (Taylor) Ward hit that three-run homer and we kept it going.”
The Angels did their damage against Oakland right-hander James Kaprielian, a product of Irvine’s Beckman High and UCLA.
Steven Duggar tripled in his first Angels at-bat in the third, and then David Fletcher drove him in with a bloop single. In the fifth, Ohtani singled – his first hit in 12 career at-bats against Kaprielian – and then Luis Rengifo was safe on an error. Ward followed with a three-run homer, putting the Angels ahead, 4-0.
Ohtani padded the lead with a shot over the right field fence in the seventh inning.
After that, Nevin turned the game over to the bullpen, and he also took Ohtani out of the game as the DH. Ohtani’s foot had gotten increasingly sore after a comebacker off the bat of Ramon Laureano got him in the instep back in the third inning. Ohtani got the out, but he limped off the field.
“It hit my foot pretty square so initially I thought there was a good chance that this might be it for tonight,” Ohtani said, “but I got back in there and it wasn’t as bad as I initially thought.”
Later in the night, though, as the adrenaline wore off, Ohtani said he got more sore. The Angels had him get precautionary X-rays, which were negative. Nevin said he planned on playing Ohtani on Wednesday.
Ohtani is now 10-7 with a 2.68 ERA in 111 innings, to go with 25 homers and an .849 OPS. When he won the MVP last season, he had a 3.18 ERA, 46 homers and a .964 OPS.
“You try not to take for granted what we’re seeing every night, but it’s pretty awesome to be a part of,” Nevin said. “It certainly is.”
Oh yeah, Ohtani was also doing this tonight. pic.twitter.com/aJMXXNSwZC
— MLB (@MLB) August 10, 2022
Shohei’s doing it all tonight.
Ohtani passes Ichiro Suzuki for second-most home runs by a Japanese-born player. pic.twitter.com/YpCxege6hi
— MLB (@MLB) August 10, 2022