ANAHEIM – After hitting a two-run double tying game at the center-left wall of the field with two outs in the ninth inning of the Angels’ unlikely win over the Nationals on Sunday, Shohei Ohtani said he believed his swing was finally getting close. from where he wanted after a relatively slow start to the year offensively.
Ohtani’s premonition turned out to be true as the two-way star hit two homers, including his first career Grand Slam, to lead the Angels to an 11-3 victory over the Rays in Monday’s series opener at Angel Stadium. It was the eighth multihomer game of Ohtani’s career and the second this season. Surprisingly, he also never hit a Grand Slam during his five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan, so this marked his first as a pro.
Ohtani, the current American League MVP, has been working hard to hit the ball across the board in recent games in an effort to break out of recent funk, and it’s starting to pay dividends. Both of his homers went to the opposite field and helped him tie a career with five RBIs.
With his 3-4 performance against Tampa Bay, Ohtani is now hitting 0.252/0.315/0.445 with six homers, five doubles, four stolen bases and 21 RBIs in 30 games. He hit 0.257/0.372/0.592 last year during his MVP season, but it’s also worth noting that the league’s average OPS was 0.728 last year but dropped to 0.676 this year.
His first outburst came in the sixth inning of southpaw Jalen Beeks and a first-time pitch, just after a two-run outburst from fellow superstar Mike Trout, marking the first time the Angels have hit back-to-back homers in a game this season. It was also the fourth time they hit back-to-back homers and the first time since June 8, 2019, against the Mariners.
The grand slam came in the seventh against right-handed Calvin Faucher, who was making his Major League debut. Faucher walked Trout with the bases loaded to bring home a run and Ohtani took the lead with a 3-1 count. Faucher threw a cutter right down the middle and Ohtani absolutely crushed it to center left to put the Angels at 11-3.
His homers had similar profiles, as his sixth left the bat at 109.4 mph and was projected 407 feet and his grand slam in seventh had an exit speed of 109.8 and was projected 413 feet.
Ohtani is also set to be honored at a pre-game ceremony on Tuesday with several of the awards he won during the 2021 season, including the AL MVP Award, the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, the Silver Slugger Award, the Edgar Martinez Award as the best designated hitter and All-MLB First and Second Team plates.
And he’s scheduled to make his sixth start of the season on Wednesday and is coming off one of the best games of his career, knocking out 11 in seven innings against the Red Sox on Thursday. He posted a 3.08 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 26 1/3 innings as a pitcher.