ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — At least in his own manager’s view, Shohei Ohtani is running away with the AL MVP award.
Ohtani pitched seven strong innings and hit an early RBI single as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Colorado Rockies 6-2 on Monday night.
In his 15th pitching start of the season and second, since the All-Star break, Ohtani (5-1) gave up one run and five hits with five strikeouts. The two-way phenom has allowed a combined one run in two pitching appearances since participating in the Home Run Derby and starting on the mound in the All-Star Game at Colorado this month.
Afterward, manager Joe Maddon scoffed at the notion that Ohtani, who has a 3.04 ERA and leads the majors with 35 home runs, is somehow in a close MVP race as the final two months of the regular season approach.
“I know there are other guys having good years, but you have to stop and really analyze what’s going on here,” Maddon said. “There is nobody that even comes close to what he’s doing. It’s way imbalanced. … When people talk of (the MVP race) being close, it’s not.”
Jack Mayfield added a two-run homer for the Angels, his fourth of the season and third in his last five games. Raisel Iglesias worked a scoreless ninth for his 22nd save in 26 chances.
Rockies starter German Marquez, also an All-Star, kept his team close until Mayfield’s seventh-inning homer. Dom Nunez and Brendan Rodgers went deep for Colorado.
Ohtani gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead two Angels batters into the game when he rolled a broken-bat single through the infield to score David Fletcher from second base.
Ohtani then stole second and scored on Jared Walsh’s one-out single for a 2-0 advantage.
After giving up three hits in the first inning, Marquez (8-8) settled down until running into trouble in the seventh. He permitted four runs (three earned) on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“I felt a little tired,” Marquez said about his seventh inning. “I felt a little rushed with my delivery and my arm was late. Maybe I got tired.”
Ohtani cruised into the fourth before hitting Trevor Story with a pitch. Story yelled as a 97 mph fastball hit him in the back of the left hand. After being tended to by team medical personnel, he remained in the game.
In the fifth, Nunez got to Ohtani with a home run to right field on a full count.
Facing Nunez again in the seventh, Ohtani struck out the left-handed hitter on a 100 mph fastball for his last out of the game. The right-hander did not issue a walk, and his seven innings matched a season-high.
“The first six innings, I was trying to keep my pitch count on the lower side so I wasn’t really going for that strikeout,” Ohtani said through a translator. “In the seventh inning, I knew that was going to be my last one so I was trying to go for the strikeouts. And also, he hit that homer off me on that last at-bat, so I had something left in the tank.”
Mayfield, taking advantage of his playing time with third baseman Anthony Rendon on the injured list, followed Adam Eaton’s infield single leading off the seventh with his home run just inside the left-field foul pole for a 4-1 lead.