ANAHEIM, Calif. — What can't Shohei Ohtani, the dazzling Japanese two-way star who can throw over 100 miles per hour on the mound while hitting 450-foot home runs, do on the baseball field? Up until Monday night, he had never hit a grand slam as a professional.
He changed that with one big swing in the 7th inning of the Los Angeles Angels' 11-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday, the 99th homer of his MLB career.
It was actually his second homer of the game. To be more specific, his second home run in two innings. He, and four-time AL MVP Mike Trout homered in back-to-back at bats in the sixth inning of the game.
“Honestly I didn’t know it was my first one. In my head I thought I hit one in Japan, but I guess not,” Ohtani said through his interpreter after the game.
It's the second time Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, hit two homers in a game this season and the eighth time he's done it in the majors. Ohtani connected on a 3-1 cutter from Calvin Faucher, who was making his big-league debut, and sent it over the wall in left for the Angels' third grand slam this season and the first of his career.
“I wasn’t expecting to hit two home runs,” said Ohtani. “I wasn’t sitting on any particular pitches. If the ball was in the zone, I wanted to put good swings on it. Trout set the tone the previous at-bat by hitting that home run.”
Ohtani suddenly now has six home runs on the year after what was characterized as a slow start to the season at the plate for the 27-year-old.
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But, that hasn't been the story on the mound. The two-way star has put up very impressive numbers as a starting pitcher this season, despite one bad game against the Rangers in April.
He's allowed just two runs in his last three starts. His most recent start, he struck out 11 Red Sox in Boston in a seven-inning start with no runs allowed. His highest strikeout total on the year remains his six-inning outing in Houston on April 20, when he got 12 Astros and allowed just one hit and one walk.
Ohtani's next start on the mound is scheduled for Wednesday against the Rays at home.
He will receive his AL MVP Award before Tuesday's game as is one homer shy of becoming the third Japanese-born player to reach 100 in the majors.
He has 147 in his professional career, including 48 with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in five seasons in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball league.