Ohtani’s two-way performance puts end to 14-game losing streak

After setting an unpleasant franchise-record 14-game losing streak on June 8, 2022 by losing to Red Sox by 1 – 0, the Angels looked more desperate than ever to find an answer to halt what looked a never-ending despair. When they reached a 12-game losing streak, dismissing Joe Maddon — who had managed the Angels for 2 years (2020 – 2022) — did not stop them from losing for the 13th time.

So someone had to step up and go extra miles to stop this 14-game streak in the midst of injury-prone season with Trout, Fletcher, and Rendon on the IL. It was none other than last year’s MVP and a two-way player, Ohtani. Ohtani’s last two starts had not been great (9 runs 5 home runs allowed in 9 innings), but he had 11 strikeouts with no walks in a strong 7 frames against Red Sox at Fenway. And his ERA has been better at home than away games (6 – 0 with a 1.95 ERA vs. 3 – 2 with a 5.02 ERA in 2021).

Not only did Ohtani do what he aimed to do give the Angels a win for the first time since May 24, but he executed it as a two-way player at the finest level. I narrowed down key moments from the game.

On top of the second inning, Verdugo at the third base tried to score on a Cordero’s groundout, but gets tagged by catcher Stassi just in time to deny the first run of the game.

There is a couple of things to pay attention to this play. The first one is how close the play is.

As shown on the photo above, the gap between Verdugo’s foot and the home plate is almost the same as the gap between Stassi’s glove and Verdugo’s leg.

It is a bang-bang play as Stassi manages to tag right before Verdugo’s foot touched the home plate. Red Sox does not challenge this as the home plate umpire had a good view to make the right call.

Another thing to pay attention during this play is when the bat of Cordero gets shattered and a large part of the broken bat flies above Ohtani’s head so fast that Ohtani hardly notices as he pays more attention to the ball than a piece of bat that almost hits him in the head.

After noticing that dangerous moment, he shows a sign of relief with his hand gesture; how close the bat flew by him.

101 mph is the fastest strikeout Ohtani has thrown

On top of the third, after Ohtani allows a single and a wild pitch that made Dalec to third base, Ohtani strikes out Devers with a 101 mph fastball, which sets the fastest pitch to record a strike in his career.

On bottom of the fifth, Ohtani hits a go-ahead two-run home run to give the Angels the lead. No words to describe how important this home run is for him and his team as if he has been waiting to hit a home run after striking out at previous two bats against Pivetta who has struck out 9 batters before he allows that home run.

Ohtani is elated after hitting a two-run home run to the left center while rounding the bases

When do we get to show velocities for both pitching and hitting for a single player? Tonight, his exit velocity for the home run was 104.4 mph and his fastest pitch was 101 mph.

Angels gain a huge lead from Velazquez‘s three-run shot with 2 outs off a 96 mph fastball from Sawamura who was on the verge of getting out of a jam after replacing Pivetta in the sixth with runners on first and second.

Ohtani watches patiently when Iglesias is a strike away from closing the game
Fans stand up with their phones/cameras held to watch the moment of Angels ending the 14-game losing streak
Ohtani looks up with a sigh of relief as the Angels finally end the streak
Ohtani’s graphic cover highlighting his performance on June 9, 2022 to end the Angels’ longest losing streak – 14
Ohtani photos © Getty Images

I could not help but making the cover to commemorate what Ohtani did on June 9, 2022 when he

  • Recorded the fastest pitch — 101 mph — as a strikeout
  • Threw 100 pitches in 7 innings and only allowed one run
  • Hit a lead-off two-run home run that had 104 mph exit velocity

This day would remain as one of the memorable days in his career for sure next to World Series championship he may grasp in the future. Lastly, I translated his Japanese interview.

Reporter: Nice game! How do you feel right now?
Ohtani: It was a long losing streak, but I am relieved that it is over.

Reporter: Last time you got a win as a pitcher was May 5 and there must have been some pressure coming to this game. How did you approach today’s game?
Ohtani: I tried to end this skid, but we’d had a bad momentum so I wanted to make sure to end it today.

Reporter: You gave up one run today. What did you think of your pitching?
Ohtani: It is not an easy lineup to face against as they don’t strike out much, but I got a run support from my teammates and managed to grind through.

Reporter: Last time you got a win as a pitcher was May 5 and there must have been some pressure coming to this game. How did you approach today’s game?
Ohtani: I tried to end this skid, but we’d had a bad momentum so I wanted to make sure to end it today.

Reporter: You mainly used fastball, slider, and splitter. Which one of them did you find it most effective?
Ohtani: I was glad my command for fastball was working and I felt like I balanced them out effectively.

Reporter: As a hitter, you hit a go-ahead two-run home run as your 12th of the season. Can you go through the at-bat?
Ohtani: I wanted to hit an extra-base hit or a home run to change the momentum of the game and I was happy to get [Velazquez]’s three-run home run for an extra run support.

Reporter: You performed well as a two-way player today. What is your take on that?
Ohtani: It has been tough as everyone was struggling, but we knew we were putting efforts so I would like to continue to work hard for a win streak.

Reporter: There are still more than 100 games left. What can we expect from you?
Ohtani: Now with the losing streak coming to an end, I would like to work hard for a 14-game win streak.

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