ANAHEIM, California – New month, same story for Shohei ohtani.
The Los Angeles Angels slugger, hours after being named the AL Player of the Month in June, increased his major league-leading home run total to 30 with two hits against the Baltimore Orioles Friday night at Angel Stadium. .
Ohtani also stole his twelfth base this season in the ninth inning after a walk, putting himself in position to score the run-winner with a single by Jared walsh.
Ohtani became the third player to have 30 or more homers before the All-Star Game in the past 10 seasons, joining Chris davis in 2013 (37) and Christian yelich in 2019 (31).
But the milestones didn’t stop there.
He joined Hideki Matsui (31) as the only Japanese-born players with a 30-homer season. Ohtani’s six multi-homer games (three this season) are tied with Matsui for the second-most by a Japanese-born player (second only to Ichiro Suzuki’s seven). And with his two home runs against the O’s, Ohtani now has 13 in his last 15 games, the most in any 15-game span in Angels history.
Fans hoping to see Ohtani’s other skillset on display at the All-Star Game might just get their wish.
Angels manager Joe Maddon wants Ohtani to pitch and hit in the Summer Classic on July 13 in Denver and has discussed it with Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash, who will lead the American League team. .
Maddon said seeing Ohtani do both in addition to participating in the Home Run Derby on July 12 at Coors Field would appeal to even non-baseball fans. That is why he advocates showing Ohtani as much as possible.
“Shohei’s out-of-bounds maximum for me is the right thing to do,” Maddon said ahead of Friday’s 7-8 win over Baltimore. “What more could you want? We have to do it in a way that is not destructive in some way.
“For him to pitch and hit, you have to loosen up a little bit, the designated hitter rule. I think they’re prepared to do that kind of thing.”
Ohtani was chosen for his first All-Star Game by fans Thursday night as the AL’s starting designated hitter. He remained cautious through his interpreter on what the plans might be for him during the game.
“I think as players we are all like pieces of the puzzle, and it all depends on the coach, how he is going to decide to use me. That is all I can say for now,” Ohtani said. “It’s a pretty big milestone. I want the team to win first. As long as I’m giving up and helping the team win, I felt like it should be natural for me to be selected as an All-Star.”
Ohtani was voted the American League’s June Player of the Month on Friday, marking the first time he received the monthly honor. He hit .309 with 13 homers and 23 RBIs, in addition to going 2-0 with 33 strikeouts in five pitching starts. He finished the month with home runs in 11 of the last 14 games.
His two home runs on Friday not only gave him the Angels’ record for the most home runs before the All-Star break, but they also broke Babe Ruth’s mark for the most in a season with 10 or more games pitched. Ruth hit 29 home runs in 1919 for the Boston Red Sox.
“It’s such an easy swing, but a violent one,” said his teammate. Mike trout, who was also chosen as the starter of the All-Star Game despite being injured. “You’ve seen him in the last few weeks, he’s unconscious at the plate. Whatever he hits, he’s over the fence.”
Trout said he spoke to Ohtani last week and told him to enjoy the All-Star experience.
“The whole vibe and being there with all the guys, it’s one of the coolest things you’re going to do. And it happens really fast, especially for him with the Derby and all the directions he’s going to be dragged in,” Trout said. . “He’s going to try to put on a show, that’s why it’s Show-tani.”
Maddon spoke to Cash last weekend when Los Angeles was in Tampa Bay for a three-game series. Maddon said discussions with Cash will continue, and that Angels general manager Perry Minasian will also have a role. Conversations between the All-Star Game manager and the teams are common, especially when it comes to the pitching staff and whether someone will pitch the weekend before the game.
Ohtani also made his case to Cash with a 453-foot home run from the D-ring in right field at Tropicana Field in the first game of the series on June 25. That was only the 39th ball to reach that spot since the park opened. in 1998.
Before the All-Star Game, Ohtani has more pressing matters, like trying to bounce back from a difficult outing in his last pitching start. He was hit with a career-high seven runs in two-thirds of an inning Wednesday against the New York Yankees, his worst start to the year.
Ohtani said no decision has been made on when he will start his next race. If he stays on schedule, it could be Tuesday or Wednesday against the Boston Red Sox.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.