Hello! Welcome to the fourth edition of the new Angels Beat newsletter. Rhett Bollinger has covered the Angels for MLB.com since 2019. Prior to that, he covered the Twins for eight seasons.
ARLINGTON — It was simply a matter of time before two-way star Shohei Ohtani was going to break out at the plate after a slow start offensively through the first week of the season.
Ohtani did just that, homering twice against the Rangers in a 9-6 win at Globe Life Field on Friday. Ohtani entered with a pair of doubles but no homers through his first seven games, but he changed that in a hurry, as he homered on the first pitch of the game from right-hander Matt Bush. He later added a two-run shot in the fifth as part of a five-run inning that gave the Halos the lead after Angels manager Joe Maddon went with the unconventional strategy of intentionally walking Texas shortstop Corey Seager with the bases loaded in the fourth.
“He’s starting to do Shohei things again,” Maddon said. “He’s fine. He almost hit one out to left field, too. It was only a matter of time. You just have to leave him alone and let him work with the hitting coaches.”
Ohtani uncharacteristically struggled in his start on the mound Thursday, allowing six runs over 3 2/3 innings. He was hurt by a grand slam from Jonah Heim on an 0-2 splitter, which is usually an unhittable pitch from Ohtani.
Ohtani pointed to a flaw with his pitching mechanics after the game, but he quickly bounced back at the plate with his two-homer performance the next day. It’s become routine for Ohtani, as he homered in an astounding eight games the day after he pitched last year, when he won the AL MVP Award unanimously.
“He’s just different,” Maddon said. “I don’t know anybody else that can do what he’s done and pitch and hit on the same day, and then the next day, play a game as though nothing happened physically. Nothing bothers him. It’s amazing.”