Shohei Ohtani hit his 36th major league home run in the two-way superstar’s final home game before the end of the season, hitting a mighty home run in the Los Angeles Angels’ 7-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Ohtani practiced a low-line drive to midfield in the first inning, which has allowed him to hit 24 homers in his last 45 games.
Only five other major leaguers started on Sunday and hit 24 or more home runs in the entire season, but Ohtani rekindled his performance in June after the All-Star break, hitting four home runs in nine of the Angels’ nine home games.
With the Halos’ recent team success, the chances of a replacement seem to have diminished, but fans left Angel Stadium unsure if they would still see Ohtani in a home kit. Los Angeles owner Arte Moreno must decide whether to risk losing Ohtani as a free agent this winter. General manager Perry Minassian said the Angels are very unlikely to release Ohtani if they remain in playoff contention. The Angels are still in contention for the American League wild card, but are currently divided by seven teams over the bottom two slots, about six games apart.
Ohtani will start next Friday in Toronto, manager Phil Nevin said.
The Angels gave Ohtani an extra day off and postponed his final pitch before the trade deadline to avoid queuing for the start of the game in humid Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon the day after the trade deadline.
Nevin fears the humidity could lead to a recurrence of the finger blisters that plagued Ohtani earlier this month. On Sunday, the Angels scored four on back-to-back home runs by Andrew Velázquez and Luis Renguifo in the fifth, and Renguifo added another in the sixth. Mickey Moniak also won six of eight games for Los Angeles, extending the longest active hitting streak in the majors to 14 games.
Tyler Anderson had eight hits in the seventh inning for the Angels. Carlos Estevez scored his ninth goal, his 23rd save.