The Houston Astros defeated the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night by a score of 5-1 (box score). For Houston, Lance McCullers Jr. allowed one run in eight innings, Kyle Tucker homered, and the Astros scored four runs off the Angels' bullpen in a decisive eighth inning.
The story, though, was another two-way effort from Angels right-hander/DH/outfielder Shohei Ohtani. He was the starting pitcher in this one, and he was also in the lineup in the two hole. On the mound, he was dominant in what may have been the best start of his MLB career:
Of Ohtani's 88 pitches, 62 went for strikes, and with the effort his 2021 ERA now stands at a sparkling 2.10. Particularly encouraging was Ohtani's improved control in this start. Now for some relevant moving pictures:
In all, Ohtani induced 16 swinging strikes on five different pitches. With his pitching alone, he made some history:
At the plate, he went 1 for 4, and his single was one of just three hits allowed by McCullers in eight innings of work. After Ohtani's work on the mound, however, this happened:
Yep, after Ohtani's 88 pitches and seven innings of mound-work, manager Joe Maddon opted to keep his bat in the lineup by inserting him in right field (he had one ball hit to him). Suffice it to say, that kind of thing doesn't happen often:
Shohei Ohtani is the first player to strike out 10+ and play in the outfield in the same game since Harvey Haddix on September 28, 1952.— Evan Boyd (@EvanBoydSTATS) May 12, 2021
That was just the second time in his MLB career that Ohtani has played in the field. The first time was April 24, also against the Astros, when he played an inning in left field.
On top of all that, Ohtani has now batted for himself as the starting pitcher on three occasions this season. That makes him the first pitcher to have done so in a game in which the DH was available. Prior to Tuesday's outing, he'd been tied with Ken Brett of the 1976 Chicago White Sox with two such games.
On the season, Ohtani is now batting .261/.312/.591, and he remains tied for the AL lead with 10 home runs. As pitcher, Ohtani, as noted, boasts a 2.10 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 20 walks in 25 2/3 innings. You'd take either of those players on your team and do so without hesitation. The Angels, though, get all of that in one roster spot. It's no exaggeration to say baseball hasn't seen the likes of Shohei Ohtani in a long time. The game against Houston -- albeit a loss for the Angels -- provided an acute reminder of that fact.