Shohei Ohtani didn’t start on the mound as scheduled after getting plunked on Sunday, but that didn’t stop the two-way star from putting on a show.
Ohtani flaunted his elite power and speed in the Angels’ 7-3 loss to the Rays on Monday at Angel Stadium, doubling on a routine grounder and launching a towering two-run shot high into the night. Just another routine showing for someone who also makes a living throwing off a dirt mound.
“He’s very impressive. Carries himself well. Ginormous human being,” Rays ace Tyler Glasnow said. “He’s a good player, for sure.”
First, Ohtani flashed his speed, turning a potential groundout into a two-bagger.
In his first plate appearance against Glasnow, Ohtani smacked a hard grounder that deflected off the glove of third baseman Mike Brosseau and caromed into center field. Ohtani sprinted off the bat and eased up when Brosseau couldn’t make the play, but when he noticed no one was close to the ball, he activated the burners.
Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier ran to the ball and fired to second base on the run, but Ohtani narrowly beat the tag. After making the first slide, Ohtani popped up and spread his arms to the side, indicating that he was, indeed, safe.
Ohtani immediately tried his luck on the bases once more and took off for third on the Glasnow’s first pitch to Mike Trout. He was thrown out by several feet.
“Probably a little overzealous in that moment, but I can’t come down on him or be negative with him because you can’t have it both ways all the time,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Glasnow got the better of Ohtani in their second meeting of the night, striking out the two-way star swinging. The tall, lanky right-hander dropped in one of his famous curveballs that started in the zone, then fell off the table and onto the dirt. Ohtani, who made one of his characteristic overswings, took note.
In the rubber match, Ohtani flexed his muscles against that very same pitch. On an 0-1 count, Glasnow hung a curveball. Ohtani sent it high into the Anaheim night. With an exit velocity of 110.3 mph and launch angle of 34 degrees, Ohtani’s home run soared high enough to probably be detected by air traffic control. It was also his ninth homer of the season, tying the Major League lead.
“I threw him a lot of really good curveballs, and he was on it,” Glasnow said. “For the most part, when I throw a pretty good curveball at the bottom of the zone, a lot of guys don’t necessarily get close to it and hit it. I mean, I threw some really good ones and he fouled them off. So I got him once, and then I hung a slider and he got me.”
Ohtani nearly cracked another one in the bottom of the eighth inning, but flied out to left field shy of the warning track. After left fielder Brett Phillips hauled in the ball, he shared a smile with Kiermaier, seeming to express relief that Ohtani didn’t get them again.
The collective baseball world would’ve loved to see a pitchers’ duel on the mound with Glasnow, but Ohtani was scratched after being plunked on Sunday by a fastball. In for Ohtani was José Quintana, who ended with a puzzling stat line.
Quintana allowed five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings — objectively, not great. On the flip side, he walked just one batter, struck out nine and generated a season-high 22 whiffs. The southpaw’s start was a case where the final line doesn’t fully reflect the eye test.
Through two innings, Quintana went blow-for-blow with Glasnow. Quintana set down the first six batters he faced and struck out five. Then, the wheels fell off. He allowed four runs in the third inning, then Willy Adames provided the knockout blow in the fourth with a no-doubt, 446-foot home run. An odd night, indeed.
“Bad luck is the only luck this guy’s got,” Maddon said.
Quintana wasn’t the only one with poor luck, as Anthony Rendon fouled a ball off his left knee and had to be removed from the game. The team revealed postgame that X-rays came back negative and Rendon is day-to-day with a knee contusion. The injury comes when Rendon, who homered in the sixth inning, was starting to heat up.
Should Rendon have to miss time, more of the offensive load will fall on the shoulders of Ohtani and company. But given how well the two-way star has played thus far, he’ll be more than capable of helping carry the load, whether it be with power or speed.