Sports | April 27, 2021 12:17 pm

Shohei Ohtani Is Finally Fulfilling the Babe Ruth-ian Potential We’ve Been Waiting For

Ohtani did something on Monday that no one in MLB has pulled off since Ruth in 1921

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani of the LA Angels celebrates scoring a run.
Ronald Martinez/Getty

When he took the mound on Monday for the Angels, slugger Shohei Ohtani became the first pitcher to start a game while also leading the league in home runs since Babe Ruth did it in 1921.

Ohtani, who has seven home runs on the season to go along with 18 RBIs and a .300 batting average, didn’t go yard at the plate, but he was efficient from the bump and picked up his first win of the season after holding the Rangers to four runs on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out nine across five innings as the Angles defeated Texas 9-4.

For Ohtani, who went 2-for-3 with a double, two RBIs, a walk and three runs scored at the plate, the win was his first since having the Tommy John surgery that kept him off the mound for all of 2019 and the majority of last season.

“A pretty complete game of baseball,” said Angels manager Joe Maddon. “If you weren’t entertained by watching him tonight, you can’t be entertained watching the game of baseball. His offensive performance tonight while he was pitching was a big contributor to our win.

Unfortunately, Ohtani was removed from Monday’s game against the Rangers as a precaution after a blister began to form on his pitching hand. Considered day-to-day, the 26-year-old could be back in the starting lineup as a batter on Tuesday, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Angels hold him out of the second matchup of the series as a precautionary measure.

“I was able to drive in those two runs, that was huge for me, and we were able to tie the game up in the second inning,” the Japanese right-hander said through his translator. “So it felt like a fresh start, I treated it like a brand new ballgame. I’m very happy for the team victory. Personally, that first inning was terrible, so I can’t be overly satisfied.”

Monday’s game was the second time this season the two-way star pitched and batted second. If the blister turns out to be nothing, Ohtani will look to continue his success on the mound at home Monday against the Rays in his third start as a pitcher this season.