Ohtani hurls eight innings, hits 40th homer in Angels win

Washington (AFP) –


Japanese two-way threat Shohei Ohtani smacked his 40th home run of the season and threw a Major League Baseball career-high eight innings in a Los Angeles Angels' victory on Wednesday.

Ohtani, making his case for American League Most Valuable Player honors, powered the Angels past the host Detroit Tigers 3-1, including a solo homer in the eighth inning.

Ohtani's previous MLB career best on the mound was 7 2/3 innings against Tampa Bay in May 2018 and he had reached seven innings three times this year.

The 27-year-old former Nippon Ham Fighters star became the first left-handed batter in Angels history to reach 40 homers, surpassing Reggie Jackson's previous lefty high total of 39 from 1982.

Ohtani needed only 90 pitches to retire 27 Tigers, 69 of which he threw for strikes. He struck out eight and did not walk a batter for the fifth time in 18 starts this season.

The Angels brought in closing relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias for the ninth inning and the 31-year-old Cuban got the final three outs for his 27th save of the year.

Ohtani broke the record for most homers in an MLB season by a Japanese-born player when he smashed his 32nd homer of the campaign last month to pass the old mark set by Hideki Matsui.

The first regular pitcher and batter in MLB since Babe Ruth a century ago could set an Angels record for homers in a season. The mark is now held by Troy Glaus with 47 homers in 2000.

At 61-61, the Angels are 10 1/2 games behind Houston in the AL West division and eight games behind Oakland in the race for a wildcard playoff spot.