Shuhei Ohtani sets a new record for the Angels, surpassing Nolan Ryan

ANAHIME — With his astonishing arsenal of 100-mph fastballs, sweeping sliders, drop-kicks, and disappearing breaks between his seven pitches, it’s no surprise that two-way star Shuhei Ohtani was almost unadaptable early in the season.

Otani converted in his third consecutive start on Tuesday, as he pulled off the Nationals with one run in seven scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory. And he did it again despite not having the best control early in the season, walking five times and hitting a batter, but striking out six and batting his way out of two jams.

Ohtani improved to 2-0 with a 0.47 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 19 innings pitched through three games this season, his last before becoming a free agent. Ohtani is far from satisfied, however, as he points out his 12 career hits this season.

“If you look at the results on paper, they look great, but I didn’t really get many 1-2-3 rounds,” Ohtani said through translator Ippei Mizuhara. “I feel like the only problem now is walking. It’s kind of weird, because I felt really good in the bullpen this time, so I didn’t think I’d give up as much as I did.”

But even with his career, Ohtani set an Angels franchise record by allowing two or fewer runs in his 10th straight start—eclipsing the previous mark set by Nolan Ryan in 1972-73. And going 1-for-4 at the plate, Ohtani is hitting .300/.404/.575 with three homers, two doubles and eight RBIs in 11 games.

He’s also reached base safely in all 11 games this season and 34 in a row going back to last year, the sixth longest streak in club history.

The only hit Ohtani allowed on Tuesday came with two outs in the fourth inning and he likely would have been caught by first baseman Jake Lamb if he hadn’t been carrying a runner at first base. But CJ Abrams’ line drive got Lamb and down the line right for a double. Otani recovered, though, by running Michael Chaves out on shortstop to end the inning.

Ohtani, the AL MVP in 2021 and runner-up last season, had no starts but walked three of the first six batters he faced, marking his third straight start while allowing at least three walks. But he again leaned heavily on his sweeping slider, which had already become the best sweeper in baseball.

Of his 92 pitches, Otani threw sweeps 51 times and scored five swings and missed them. He threw seven different pitches in the game—sweeper, four-seamer, clipper, slider, setter, and curveball—keeping Washington hitters off balance.

“He’s added some form to his pitches,” said manager Phil Nevin. “The adjustments he makes in the game and between starts, that’s what great pitchers do. He’s obviously one of those guys, always striving to be better. He threw some pitches tonight that we didn’t see.”

“He was messing with the slider a little bit,” said O’Hoppe, who hit his fourth leadoff homer of the year in the sixth inning. “It’s one of the things he’s been working on. It had a little bit more depth to it, and I thought it was great. His ability to make pitch adjustments in the middle of an outing is what impresses me the most.”

Otani was removed after the seventh, as he had thrown 111 pitches in his previous start against the Mariners. He will be removed from the squad on Wednesday to give him a break. His next outing on the mound will be tough, as he is scheduled to start against the Red Sox on the day of the Boston Marathon on Monday, with the game kicking off at 11am EST / 8am PT.

“He’s had a huge workload early this offseason,” said Nevin. “We’ll give it to him tomorrow. His next down is 8 a.m. West Coast. So it would be good for him to get him off his feet.”

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