Shohei Ohtani home and play gem as Angels end losing streak

ANAHEIM – Nobody in Major League Baseball today is capable of putting their team on their backs like Shohei Ohtani, because nobody in Major League Baseball today is capable of doing what Shohei Ohtani does.

And Ohtani went all out for the Angels Thursday at Angel Stadium, hitting a two-run home run and throwing seven electric innings in a 5-2 win over the Red Sox to save the end of the four-game set. The victory ended the Angels’ 14-game losing streak, the longest in franchise history, and was the first win for interim head coach Phil Nevin.

“Remarkable,” Nevin said of Ohtani on Wednesday. “No one has ever seen anything like this. And certainly seeing it up front is pretty impressive. And the conversations we’ve had, the care he has for his teammates and this game and wanting to be the best, you don’t see that very often, as well as what he does on the field.”

On the mound, Ohtani brought the heat, averaging 98.1 mph on his ATV, 1 mph above the season average. He also threw his toughest pitch of the year so far, a 101 mph fastball to eliminate Rafael Devers and finish third; it was the hardest strikeout pitch of his career. In all, he allowed six baserunners (four hits, two walks) while fanning six.

After allowing the game’s first run at the top of the fifth, Ohtani responded in style in the lower half of the frame. With one out, Juan Lagares scored, and Ohtani followed up with a ball to center field for his first of two hits of the night. It was his 12th home of the season and his first since May 29, when he hit two against the Blue Jays. The no-game drought lasted nine games and 44 board games.

The home run drastically changed the tone of the game. Ohtani worked through a traffic jam early in the sixth, then got some extra support at the bottom of the inning on Andrew Velazquez’s three-run home run. It was a much-needed insurance as they took the lead in the seventh inning or six times later in the last 14 games. The bullpen was able to hold this one, allowing the Angels to light up Big A for the first time in over two weeks.

It’s not going to get any easier for the Angels here, with their next five games against teams in first place. They open a three-game set with the Mets at home on Friday, then move on to two Freeway Series games against the Dodgers starting Tuesday. But getting back in the win column was a big step in the right direction for a team that still has playoff aspirations.

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