Sports | August 24, 2022 2:18 pm

Tampa Catcher Christian Bethancourt Does His Best Shohei Ohtani

Bethancourt called a solid game, hit a home run and pitched a scoreless ninth inning as Tampa rolled the Angels 11-1

Christian Bethancourt of the Rays celebrates after hitting a home run
Tampa catcher Christian Bethancourt is MLB's newest dual-threat.
Mike Ehrmann/Getty

Facing All-Star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani and the Angels on Tuesday night, Tampa Bay catcher Christian Bethancourt showed off at, behind and facing the plate as the Rays rolled to an 11-1 win over the visitors at Tropicana Field.

Traded to the Rays from the A’s earlier this season, Bethancourt homered and hit a two-run single in a six-run seventh inning that blew the game open and gave the Rays a 9-1 lead. Also a first baseman and outfielder, Bethancourt has homered in a career-high three straight games after going deep just once over a 31-game stretch.

Behind the plate, Bethancourt guided starter Corey Kluber and relievers Brooks Raley and JT Chargois through eight innings of one-run ball before taking the ball himself for the ninth inning with the Rays leading by 10 runs. Bethancourt, who briefly worked as a reliever earlier in his career, touched 95 mph with his fastball and picked up a strikeout in a scoreless ninth inning during which he allowed a pair of hits and tossed 12-of-16 pitches for strikes.

Following his good game, Bethancourt had an even better line. “Hit a homer, catch a great game and throw a scoreless inning,” he said. “Now I know what it feels like to be Ohtani.”

Bethancourt, who said he was trying to get up to 100 mph but still has some work to do, became the fifth player this season to homer and pitch in the same game. The other four were Rays teammate Yu Chang, the Pirates’ Diego Castillo, the Giants’ Luis González and Ohtani. “What I try to do is hit the ball hard, and if they go, they go,” he said. “It’s just been great to have that feeling right now that the team is on a winning streak and just to help them any way I can to win ballgames. I enjoy my time more behind the plate and being able to get some hits sometimes and hit a homer here and there.”

Ohtani didn’t pitch and went 1-for-3 as the Angels’ DH in the loss and is probably hoping he gets traded this offseason amidst massive uncertainty in the front office and above in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Rays improved to a season-high 12 games over .500 at 67-55 and still hold the top spot in the American League wild-card race after winning four straight and nine of 11.