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Shohei Ohtani Reaches Another Milestone with 30th Home Run of 2022

The Angels superstar became the first player in Major League Baseball history with 30 or more homers and 10 or more wins in the same season.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani rips a three-run home run off New York Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium on August 31. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SPORTS)

In his fifth MLB season, Shohei Ohtani continues to raise the bar for himself, Japanese ballplayers and every future two-way player.

The reigning American League MVP belted his 30th home run of the season, a three-run blast to center off New York Yankees hurler Gerrit Cole, in the sixth inning on Wednesday, August 31 at Anaheim Stadium. The game-winning clout propelled the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-2 win.

The 28-year-old pride of Iwate Prefecture is having a strong season as an Angels starting pitcher. He is 11-8 with a 2.67 ERA in 22 starts. He has 176 strikeouts in 128 innings.

Showcasing his unique talents as a powerful slugger and hard-throwing hurler, Ohtani is the first player in MLB history with 30 or more homers and 10 or more wins in the same season.

Ohtani also became the first Japanese MLB player to hit 30 homers in back-to-back seasons. Hideki Matsui was the first Japanese player to hit 30 homers in a season, smacking 31 for the Yankees in 2004.

"I'm simply happy [about that]," Ohtani said, according to Kyodo News. "So far, I've been able to keep getting solid results. I want to keep making the adjustments I'll need to stay healthy and be able to play right until the end [of the season]."

AL MVP Talk 

All of the above has bolstered the argument that Ohtani ought to receive strong consideration for the AL MVP award in 2022, even though the Angels (57-74) are 27 games behind the West Division-leading Houston Astros and out of playoff contention. 

In the three-game series against title-chasing New York, led by slugger and MVP candidate Aaron Judge, who has an MLB-best 51 homers, reporters raised the issue of the prestigious award while interviewing Ohtani.

“It definitely leads to motivation for me to do better. I mean trying to go for that hardware,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, referring to the chance to play against Judge, according to The Associated Press. “It’s something that I think about for the most part but I try to take it game by game and then count it all up.”

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Ohtani went 5-for-12 against the Yankees with a pair of homers and drove in five runs. For homer No. 30, he capitalized on a costly mistake by Cole, the Yankees pitcher said.

“Probably the worst fastball of the night. Terrible spot,” Cole was quoted as saying by the New York Post. “I was trying to go away. I wasn’t trying to give in there either. Just a bad miss.”

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Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forward’s [Japan Sports Notebook] here on Sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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