ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels (35-30) celebrated Christmas early this year with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners (30-32) Friday evening at Angel Stadium at their annual “Christmas in June” night.
Los Angeles owned home plate with a dominant performance from phenom Shohei Ohtani, along with a homer from Mickey Moniak. The two helped push the Angels’ winning streak to five straight.
Ohtani stole the show at the plate, as he swung for his 17th home run of the season, with a monster two-run home run in the bottom of the third inning.
His offensive performance made up for his shaky start on the mound, after allowing an early two-run home run to Jarred Kelenic in the first inning. Ohtani went 3-for-4 on the night a double and a single to go with his home run. He was a triple short of the cycle. He also pitched five innings, allowing three hits and three runs while he struck out six.
Ohtani’s pitching seems to have declined in comparison to his last two seasons. He walked five Mariners batters on the night, with three coming in the first inning. Ohtani says there’s some adjustments he needs to make for the rest of the season, and he’s also working on recovery and fatigue.
“[I need to work] not only on my sweeper, but also my velocity and my fastball, and also recovery. [My hard days] are the next day or two after pitching, and seeing how my body reacts, soreness-wise,” Ohtani said through a translator.
Angels manager Phil Nevin spoke on Ohtani’s performance so far this season.
“He’s had some slow starts in games, he’s walked the leadoff hitter I don’t know how many times this season. I feel like he did it his first four or five starts this year, but he always would come back and those were his better games,” Nevin said. “But, five [walks] is too many, and he will tell you the same thing. I know he will put in the work and be better next time.”
The 6-4, 220-pound two-way player is looking to make his third All-Star appearance at this year’s All-Star Game in Seattle. Ohtani is third in the American League in home runs (17), seventh in RBI (44), fourth in hits (69), third in slugging percentage (.563), and places in the top 15 for ERA (3.32) amongst pitchers.
In 2021, Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to be selected as an All-Star as both a batter and a pitcher, and with All-Star voting now open, he hopes to do so again.
Moniak swung for a big two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to put the Angels up 5-3. He spoke on his evolution as a batter.
“I had got beat with the heater my first two at bats, and I came back, and in that situation I’m just trying to put a good swing on it,” said Moniak. “Going into this year, I had a bit of a mindset change, going through  and  in Philly. The ups and downs had gotten to me a little bit, I had gotten a bit sensitive. But I’ve been working and feeling confident with my swing coming in.”
These performances came against a talented pitcher in Luis Castillo, who is eighth in the American League in ERA (2.70).
The Mariners looked dominant in the first three innings, holding the Angels to only one hit and no runs. Los Angeles caught fire after Ohtani’s homer in the third, followed by Luis Rengifo’s RBI single in the fourth, and Moniak’s go-ahead swing in the sixth.
The Mariners nearly got back in the game after a ninth inning home run by Mike Ford, who had been brought up from the minors on June 1, and brought the game within one run. But the Angles held it down, and snuck away with the win after Mike Trout caught a deep fly ball to seal the win.
The Angels play Seattle two more times in Anaheim this weekend, and they will need to Ohtani to continues his dominance to continue to climb in the American League standings.
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