ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani’s combination of power and pitching is unmatched by any player in baseball.
On Tuesday, the superstar from Japan used them to accomplish something that had not been done by an American League pitcher in nearly 60 years.
Ohtani hit two homers and struck out 10 Chicago batters in the Los Angeles Angels’ 4-2 victory over the White Sox, adding another extraordinary performance in what has been one of his best months since coming to the majors in 2018.
“We’re seeing things every day that we’ve never seen before and you try not to take it for granted. I don’t think many of us do,” manager Phil Nevin said.
Ohtani, who leads the majors with 28 home runs, hit solo shots in the first and seventh innings, the first time he has gone deep twice while also pitching. The second blast came after he threw 6¹/₃ innings, but came out because of a cracked fingernail.
“It was a small crack before the game and gradually got worse. I came out of the game before it got too bad so the plan is to go on schedule,” Ohtani said through his interpreter.
The last AL player before Ohtani to hit at least two homers and strike out at least 10 was Cleveland’s Pedro Ramos on July 31, 1963. That came in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Angels.
It has been done four other times in the majors: by Baltimore’s Milt Pappas (1961), Philadelphia’s Rick Wise (1971), San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner (2017) and Arizona’s Zack Greinke (2019).
“The first one came in a good spot to give us the lead. The second one gave us an insurance run,” Ohtani said.
Ohtani (7-3) struck out at least 10 for the sixth time in 16 starts and allowed one run on four hits and two walks. He leads the majors in opponent batting average (.180) and is third in strikeouts with 127.
Ohtani’s 3.02 ERA nearly mirrors his batting average, which is .304 after he went 3-for-3 with a walk.
“He’s extremely talented. He’s probably the best player in the game. He was tough to hit and he’s tough to pitch to,” Chicago manager Pedro Grifol said.
The last AL starting pitcher to hit multiple home runs was Boston’s Sonny Siebert on Sept. 2, 1971, against Baltimore. The designated hitter was introduced to the league two years later.
“Every game somehow seems to get even crazier watching him play,” catcher Chad Wallach said. “To watch him pitch like that and then go hit two homers, it somehow still surprises you every time.”
Mike Moustakas had two hits and an RBI in his second start since being acquired from Colorado Saturday night.
Carlos Estevez picked up his 20th save despite allowing the first four White Sox batters to reach in the ninth and giving up an RBI single to Andrew Vaughn. Estevez then struck out Seby Zavala and induced a game-ending double-play grounder from Elvis Andrus.
Eloy Jimenez had three hits for the White Sox, who have dropped four of six. Gavin Sheets had an RBI single in the seventh inning.
Ohtani drove a 95 mph fastball from Michael Kopech (3-7) in the first 418 feet into the elevated stands in right-center. It was the ninth time in his career and fourth time this season he homered while also on the mound.
His homer to right-center off Touki Toussaint in the seventh was his fourth homer in five games, extended the Halos’ advantage to 3-1 and gave Ohtani his third multi-homer game this season. Ohtani has 13 homers this month, which ties the franchise record for June.
Ohtani, who also had 13 home runs in June 2021, shares that mark with Albert Pujols (2015) and Tim Salmon (1996).
The Angels extended their lead to 2-0 in the fourth. Luis Rengifo hit a one-out triple into the right-field corner and scored two batters later on David Fletcher’s grounder.
“I feel like we’re in a really good spot right now. We played a good game last night and tonight obviously. We need to stack up as many wins as possible going into the All-Star break,” Ohtani said.