ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani has provided Angels fans with plenty of highlights this season. He almost passed them all Thursday night.
Ohtani, the two-way Angels phenom and reigning AL MVP, tossed a no-hitter in the eighth inning and extended his hitting streak to 14 games as Los Angeles pushed its winning streak to four with a 4-2 win over Oakland. Athletics.
“Every time he takes the mound, you can expect something special to happen,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “He had it all worked out. When he finished seventh, I thought it was going to happen. Unfortunately, we’ll wait until next time.”
Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara that he was surprised to complete eight innings. He said he was unhappy with his fastball and had more breaking balls than normal.
“To be honest, my fastball speed wasn’t as fast as usual,” he said. “But my slider was doing its job and working. I’m a little surprised with my stuff today.”
Ohtani allowed two hits and struck out 10 in eight scoreless innings to tie his longest outing of the season.
In his final home start of the year, Ohtani (15-8) walked Tony Kemp before striking out the next 22 batters in order. Conner Capel broke the no-hitter offer with a sharp grounder that deflected the glove of sliding shortstop Livan Soto and into left center field with two outs in the eighth.
Even if Soto had been able to field him, he would have struggled to send Capel off.
Dermis Garcia followed with a clean left single before Ohtani grounded Shea Langeliers to third to end the inning.
“It was going to take a special hit, and Conner stayed on a ball and hit it hard,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “There’s always this exhalation and then Garcia gets ahead and we build momentum.”
Ohtani ran his hitting streak to 14 games — the longest current streak in the majors — by going 2 for 4 with an RBI. He has 26 hits this season in games he also pitched.
After winning the American League MVP award last season, Ohtani is once again a top contender this year – arguably the top challenger to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who hit his 61st homer on Wednesday night for equal the AL record set by Roger Maris in 1961.
“I feel like you’re more of a voting expert. I’ll leave it to you to decide,” Ohtani said of the MVP race. “I love watching Judge and I saw him hit his 61st.”
Ohtani is 161 innings pitched, one inning shy of securing a league-leading berth at the end of the season. Ohtani is likely to pitch in the season finale in Oakland next Wednesday, so he does.
On the mound, Ohtani’s 15 wins are tied for third in the AL, his 213 strikeouts are third and 2.35 ERA is fourth. At plate, he is fourth in the league with 34 homers and sixth with 94 RBIs.
“I know I was named MVP last year, but I’m having a better season this year, which just gives me a lot more confidence,” he said.
Ohtani had a perfect 5⅓ inning game in Houston on April 20 before Jason Castro fielded a single to left field in the sixth. It was Houston’s only hit in the game.
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