Detroit – Shohei Ohtani hit his major league-leading 40th home run of the season and pitched a career-high eight innings in the Los Angeles Angels’ 3-1 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday at Comerica Park.
Ohtani became the first to 40 homers this season while also becoming the first left-handed hitter in Angels history to reach the mark, surpassing Reggie Jackson’s total of 39 in 1982.
“I knew it was a homer the moment I hit,” Ohtani said.
The 27-year-old Japanese star homered and got the pitching win in the same game for the first time since moving to the majors during the 2017 offseason.
Ohtani (8-1) did not walk a batter and struck out eight of the 28 he faced while throwing only 90 pitches — 69 for strikes — in the longest start of his four-year MLB career. Willi Castro’s fifth-inning homer accounted for Detroit’s only run.
“The best thing (on the mound) today was that I didn’t issue any walks,” Ohtani said. “I wanted to pitch as many innings as possible before handing over the game to the reliever.”
Ohtani had not thrown more than seven innings this season. His previous career-high was 7⅔ against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 20, 2018. He did not pitch at all in 2019 and made only two starts in 2020 after undergoing Tommy John surgery to fix his right elbow.
Ohtani went hitless in three at-bats against the Tigers before sending a slider from Jose Cisnero 131 meters (430 feet) to right field in the eighth inning.
After leading off the eighth with that towering blast to cap a 1-for-4 performance at the plate, Ohtani only needed nine pitches to retire the side in the bottom of the inning.
The Angels’ only other score came on a two-run home run by Justin Upton in the first against Tigers left-hander Tarik Skubal (8-11).
After back-to-back wins to begin the three-game series, the Angels can sweep the Tigers with a win Thursday afternoon.
Following Wednesday’s game, Ohtani talked with the media about Tigers broadcaster Jack Morris using a racist accent when talking about him during the telecast of Tuesday’s game.
Morris apologized for the comment on air, but he was suspended indefinitely by his employer, Bally Sports Detroit, for using an offensive accent to mock Asian people before Ohtani’s at-bat.
“I did see the footage and I heard it on the video. I have no say as to what the Tigers want to do, or what they did,” Ohtani told reporters.
“Personally, I’m not offended and I didn’t take anything personally. He is a Hall of Famer and has a big influence in the baseball world so it’s kind of a tough spot,” he said.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.