Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani notched another milestone, but might have suffered an injury in achieving it. The Japanese phenom joined Babe Ruth as the only players to pitch 50 innings and hit 15 home runs in a season.
The two marks come 99 years apart, with Ruth accomplishing his in 1919. Ohtani had reached 15 home runs on Aug. 27, but had not pitched since ligament sprain to his elbow in a June 6, 4-3 win over Kansas City.
On Sunday against Houston it was feared that Ohtani had re-injured his elbow. He pitched less than three innings before leaving. He had surrendered a two-run homer to George Springer as one of his 49 pitches.
Injury Scare False Alarm
Before giving up the home run, Ohtani appeared to be back in the same form that garnered MVP talk. He was throwing hard and had two strikeouts. Manager Mike Scioscia said he suffered from a stiff back and a finger injury, not an aggravation of the elbow strain.
“The first two innings were electric,” Scioscia said. “That’s what you would expect. Third inning, obviously, his stuff wasn’t as crisp. In talking to our medical staff, his back was a little tight. And when he took the ball off his ring finger, it just started to get a little bit sore. There was definitely a drop in velocity, but not connected at all to the thing that he had with his elbow before.”
Scioscia was hopeful that he could take the mound on his next scheduled start, which would be Sunday against the Chicago White Sox. Ohtani said after the Houston game he wasn’t sure if he would be able to pitch.
“I can’t really say much at this point,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I’ve got to see how my body reacts.”
A day later both manager and player were far more optimistic.
“Naturally, a red flag goes up, especially with what happened last time,” Scioscia said. “But Shohei said he felt great. He had no apprehension about what was happening in his elbow. His delivery was a little out of whack. He wanted to make sure he could get the ball into decent zones, so he wasn’t really jumping on it.”
Bright Spot in Dark Season
The highlights for the Angels have been slim, and Ohtani has brought one of the few enjoyable moments for fans this season. He joined Ruth in another record in early August, when he became the first player since the Bambino to have multiple wins as a pitcher, and hit two homers in a game. Other than Ruth, who achieved the feat in 1918, 1918, and 1920, two other players matched it. Jimmy Ryan in 1887 and 1888, and Harry Richardson in 1886.
Because of his prowess on the mound and at the plate, Ohtani was touted early as both an MVP and Rookie of the Year candidate, but the injury in June derailed those chances.
He has fallen to 50-1 to win MVP, from 4/1 two months ago. He is second in the Rookie of the Year race at +280. Gleyber Torres of the New York Yankees is the favorite at +150.