Shohei Ohtani starred with a home run in his second consecutive game as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Oakland Athletics 4-1 on Sunday.

After becoming the third Japanese-born player to hit 100 home runs in the major leagues, the 27-year-old went deep over right-field in the first inning off Frankie Montas. Mike Trout also scored after his single ahead of Ohtani.

It was the reigning American League MVP's eighth home run of the season, trailing Trout by one among the Halos, while the team leads baseball in that category with 49 for the season so far.

Patrick Sandoval pitched into the seventh inning for Los Angeles, striking out four and giving up four hits over 101 pitches.

The Halos moved to 24-13 for the season with the win, five games behind the AL West-leading Houston Astros, while the A's remain bottom of the division on 15-22.

Pujols pitches ninth as Cardinals run riot

Albert Pujols pitched for the first time in his major league career, with the St. Louis Cardinals routing the San Francisco Giants 15-6.

Brendan Donovan and Corey Dickerson were the only Cardinals not to claim hits in the lineup, while Yadier Molina got two hits and four RBIs from three at-bats, as their team went 15-2 up heading into the final frame.

It meant Pujols, the Cardinals' designated hitter, went to pitch for the first time in his 22-year career. The 42-year-old gave up a three-run homer to Luis Gonzalez and a solo shot to Joey Bart, but managed to get the final three outs for the win.

Lux lights up late as Dodgers defeat Phillies

Gavin Lux earned late redemption for the Los Angeles Dodgers in their come-from-behind 5-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies

The second baseman's fielding error allowed the Phillies to gain a 4-0 lead in the second inning, but Lux scored in the eighth inning to move the Dodgers to 4-3 after the eighth.

He then drove the winning two runs home with a walk-off shot deep into the right-field corner to deny the Phillies a four-game sweep at Dodger Stadium.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich made history on Wednesday with his third career cycle, but it came in a high-scoring 14-11 loss to the Cincinnati Reds.

Yelich's cycle began with an automatic double in the first inning, before he blasted a three-run home run his next time up in the third frame.

A single in the fifth inning meant he just needed a triple to accomplish the rare feat, and after a fly-out in the seventh, Yelich connected on a first-pitch changeup in the last inning, hooking it into the right-field corner and hustling around to third base to complete his cycle.

He is now one of six players to ever hit for the cycle on three occasions and, incredibly, all three have come against the Reds. He is the only player to have three cycles against one team.

The action from the game did not stop with Yelich as there were 29 combined hits between the two sides, including six home runs.

For the Brewers, as well as Yelich, Hunter Renfroe hit two home runs, while Jace Peterson and Mike Brosseau hit one each.

Colin Moran was the only Reds player to go deep as the team with the worst record in baseball (7-24) found another way to win, manufacturing runs with consecutive singles and walks.

In the most eye-catching stat-line of the game – other than the cycle – Reds relief pitcher Dauri Moreta conceded five runs from five hits, including two home runs, while failing to get a single out before being pulled.

 

Torres stays hot for the Yankees

After hitting a walk-off home run against the Texas Rangers earlier in the week, New York Yankees second-baseman Gleyber Torres was the hero again in his side's 5-3 win against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Torres drove in all five Yankees runs, with a three-run home run in the fourth inning, and a base hit in the sixth inning when runners were on second and third base.

Yankees starting pitcher Jameson Taillon was credited with the win, with two earned runs from six hits and one walk in five-and-a-third innings, striking out four.

Angels waste quality Ohtani start

Reigning AL MVP and Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani pitched a gem against the Tampa Bay Rays, but it was not enough as the visiting Rays won 4-2 in extra innings.

Ohtani pitched six full innings, allowing just one run from two hits and two walks, but a lack of run support meant his side was trailing 1-0 when he was withdrawn.

Shane McClanahan was also nearly flawless on the mound for the Rays to win the pitching duel, finishing with seven shutout frames, striking out 11 batters and allowing two hits with one walk.

Rookie pitcher Reid Detmers pitched the second no-hitter of the MLB season on Tuesday, as the Los Angeles Angels shut the Tampa Bay Rays out 12-0.

The 22-year-old struck out two on the way to 108 pitches over the full nine innings, recording the Angels' 12th no-hitter in franchise history.

There was no let up from an offensive standpoint for the Halos, either, with Shohei Ohtani, Mike Trout, Jared Walsh and Brandon Marsh all claiming multiple hits at the top of the order.

Trout and Anthony Rendon scored three RBIs respectively, as the Angels moved to 21-11 for the season.

They hold a one-game lead over the Houston Astros at the top of the American League (AL) West, making up two of the three best records in the AL.

Judge rules out Blue Jays stand against Yankees

The New York Yankees maintained the best record in the AL, meanwhile, defeating the divisional-rival Toronto Blue Jays 6-5.

Aaron Judge scored the first walk-off home run of his career with a three-run home run off Jordan Romano to secure a big comeback win.

This came after Giancarlo Stanton's own three-run shot in the sixth inning, as the Yankees moved four games clear of the Rays atop the AL East with the victory.

Wood wins it for Giants

Alex Wood pitched into the sixth inning for the San Francisco Giants, who defeated the Colorado Rockies 9-2.

Wood allowed seven hits and struck out four in five-and-a-third innings for the Giants, who kept within touching distance of the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West.

Curt Casali contributed three hits and two RBIs, with the Giants claiming a fourth consecutive win to bounce back from a five-game losing stretch.

The Cleveland Guardians pulled off a spectacular comeback to beat the Chicago White Sox 12-9 on the road in extra innings, as Josh Naylor finished with a remarkable eight RBIs.

After an action-packed first inning, highlighted by Gavin Sheets' three-run home run for Chicago, the White Sox led 4-1.

There would be no more runs over the next five innings as Cleveland's Zach Plesac and Chicago's Michael Kopeck found a nice rhythm, with both starters withdrawn at the beginning of the seventh inning.

This also happened to be when the action picked back up, with the White Sox adding another run via a Tim Anderson double to make it 5-1 going into the eighth.

Naylor collected his own RBI double in the eighth to peg back one run, but the game appeared to be done when the White Sox's AJ Pollock blasted a three-run homer to make it 8-2 with one inning to play.

The Guardians had other ideas, as Andres Gimenez led off the inning with a solo home run, and a pair of errors first allowed Amed Rosario to advance from first base to third, and then brought him home, making it 8-4 with no outs.

After the next two batters were retired, a walk and a single loaded the bases for Naylor to be the hero. Naylor blasted the first pitch he saw over the right-centre wall for a grand slam, tying the game and sending it to extra innings.

Gimenez added a run in the top of the 10th inning, which was matched by Reese McGuire's RBI in the bottom of the frame, forcing an 11th innings.

With two outs, capping off an outrageous day at the plate, Naylor hit a three-run home run, giving him eight RBIs with three hits and a walk from six at-bats.

Stars shine in Los Angeles

The Los Angeles Angels' two MVP hopefuls put on a show in their 11-3 win against the Tampa Bay Rays.

After a fourth-inning solo home run for Tampa Bay's Randy Arozarena, Angels stars Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout collected back-to-back hits later in the inning, setting the table for Jared Walsh to blast a three-run homer.

There was more back-to-back magic in the sixth inning, as Trout stepped up and blasted a two-run home run, before Ohtani came out next and sent a 407-foot shot over the wall at left-centre.

Trout would drive in another run an inning later with his bases-loaded walk, before Ohtani once again followed him in style, bombing a 413-foot grand slam.

Yankees no-hitter broken up late

New York Yankees starting pitcher Nestor Cortes took his no-hit bid into the eighth inning as his side beat the Texas Rangers 1-0.

Through seven complete innings, the score was tied at 0-0, with the Rangers' four base-runners for the game all reaching via walk.

After the first batter of the eighth inning was struck out, Texas' Eli White finally broke up the no-hitter with a base hit to centre-field, before New York's Anthony Rizzo drove in the one and only run for the contest later in the same frame. Cortes finished with 11 strikeouts from his seven-and-a-third innings.

Minnesota Twins pitcher Josh Winder etched his name into the history books on Friday night as he guided his team to a 2-1 win against the Oakland Athletics.

Winder, 25, in his second career start, pitched six shutout innings, giving up three hits and no walks with eight strikeouts. It comes after allowing just two hits and one walk from six scoreless innings in his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays.

He is the first pitcher since ERA became an official stat in 1913 to have 15 strikeouts, no more than one walk and allow no earned runs over his first two career starts.

It was almost not enough for the Twins, who scored their two runs from two solo homers, courtesy of Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. 

The Athletics cut the margin back to one when a fielding error allowed Cristian Pache to third base, where he would get brought home by a sacrifice fly, before Twins closer Emilio Pagan allowed a base hit and two walks to load the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning.

After a ground ball allowed the Twins to stop the third-base runner from getting to home plate, Pagan finished the job with a strikeout, sealing the victory and collecting the hard-earned save.

 

Trout delivers for Angels

AL MVP hopeful Shohei Ohtani's biggest competition for back-to-back trophies may be on his own team, as Mike Trout lifted the Los Angeles Angels to a 3-0 win against the Washington Nationals.

Reigning MVP Ohtani finished zero-for-three with a walk and an RBI, while three-time MVP Trout batted in two runs with a clutch double in the fifth inning.

It was a terrific performance by the Angels pitching staff, as starter Jhonathan Diaz gave up three hits and four walks through five scoreless frames, before the bullpen allowed just one hit and no walks the rest of the way.

Acuna bombs in Brewers win

Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna Jr gave the home fans something to cheer for, despite going down 6-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers.

In his second game back in Atlanta after a long-term injury, Acuna blasted a 450-foot home run to center-field for his first since July, but a four-run sixth inning for the Brewers put the visitors in front, where they would stay.

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon is worried baseball fans might start to take Shohei Ohtani's "otherworldly" two-way talents for granted.

In his third start of the year against the Boston Red Sox on Friday, Ohtani struck out 11 in seven shutout innings, allowing only six hits and no walks in throwing 81 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

In the pitch-count era (since 1988, minimum 50 pitches), his 81.8 per cent strike rate is the highest by a visiting pitcher at Fenway Park. Only one Red Sox pitcher – Nathan Eovaldi (82.0 per cent) last season – has topped that mark.

For good measure, Ohtani added two hits – falling just short of a home run with a single in the fourth, before cannoning another single off the Green Monster in the eighth, knocking his number 17 out of the manual scoreboard and driving in a run. He soon scored himself, too.

That late flurry contributed to an 8-0 Angels win that maintained a game-and-a-half lead in the AL West, but the focus after the game was on Ohtani and Ohtani alone.

"I hope you don't start taking that for granted, like it's old hat," Maddon said. "It's just so unusual. It's otherworldly on this level of this game."

Ohtani's start had been delayed by two days due to groin tightness, with the reigning AL MVP revealing he was "pretty fatigued", yet it was worth the wait.

Coming at Fenway Park – "one of my favorite ballparks," Ohtani said – there were inevitable comparisons to 1910s Red Sox legend Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest player of all time.

And Red Sox starter Rich Hill acknowledged it may now take another 100 years for anyone to match Ohtani's feats.

"He's the best player in the league," Hill said. "I think that's one thing everybody can pretty much unanimously agree upon.

"It's pretty special to see somebody like that come along. I think everybody should be really appreciating what we're seeing, because it’s something we haven't seen in 100 years and we may never see it again for another 100 years."

The New York Mets produced a remarkable ninth-inning comeback to stun the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7.

It was all Philadelphia early in front of their home fans, piling on four runs in the first inning, with Bryce Harper's RBI double to deep left-field the highlight.

Nick Castellanos also batted in one of the four early runs, and then added another in the second inning to make it 5-0 through two innings in a rough start for Mets pitcher Taijuan Walker. 

Walker's work came to an end at the end of the fourth inning after Harper and Castellanos both hit solo home runs, with Harper's 427-foot shot the biggest hit of the game, opening up a 7-0 lead.

Starling Marte finally got the Mets on the scoreboard with a solo home run in the sixth inning, but that would be all Phillies ace Aaron Nola would give up, pitching seven full innings for one earned run from three hits and one walk, striking out seven.

Leading 7-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, ESPN gave the Phillies a win probability of 99.9 per cent – but the ninth inning would be one to remember for Mets fans.

Marte led off the inning with an infield single, with Francisco Lindor driving him home with a two-run homer for two of the eight Mets hits in the final frame.

Pete Alonso doubled as the next man to the plate, and after an out, Jeff McNeil singled to put runners on first and third.

Mark Canha's infield single brought Alonso home, but a strikeout for the next batter still left the Mets trailing 7-4 with two outs.

J.D. Davis kept the game alive with a clutch double, bringing one more run home to leave runners on second and third, needing a base hit from Brandon Nimmo to tie the game.

Nimmo delivered, bringing home the two runners to tie the game at 7-7.

Not done there, Marte came back to the plate and collected his second hit of the inning, with his long double hitting the wall on the full to bring Nimmo home from first base and take the 8-7 lead, before the next batter grounded out.

Mets closer Edwin Diaz made no mistakes, retiring the last three batters in order for an unlikely victory.

Ohtani gives MVP performance

Shohei Ohtani showed why he could be in line to go back-to-back as the American League MVP, as he dominated the Boston Red Sox to give the Los Angeles Angels a 8-0 win.

Ohtani pitched seven shutout innings for the Halos in his pitching debut at Fenway Park, striking out 11 while only allowing six hits and no walks over 99 pitches.

He also went two-for-four with the bat, driving in a run with a base hit in the eighth inning.

Astros walk-off against Tigers

The Detroit Tigers gave the Houston Astros a scare in the ninth inning, but the Astros sent their fans home happy with a 3-2 walk-off win.

In a strong pitching showing from both teams, the only two runs through eight innings were solo home runs to Jose Altuve and rookie Jeremy Pena to give the Astros a 2-0 lead.

Jeimer Candalario tied the game in the top of the last inning with a two-run homer, but any hope of a win was short-lived as Kyle Tucker hit a walk-off base hit in the bottom of the ninth.

Five New York Mets pitchers combined on Friday to throw the franchise's second ever no-hitter, beating the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0.

Tyler Megill got things started for the Mets, pitching five innings for three walks and five strikeouts before being withdrawn after 88 pitches.

Megill was replaced by Drew Smith, who struck out four of the five batters he faced, issuing one walk before he was then replaced by Joely Rodriguez for the seventh frame.

Seth Lugo came in to finish off the eighth inning, setting the table for closer Edwin Diaz to finish the job. The Mets' second no-hitter comes nearly 10 years after their first, when Johan Santana did it by himself in June 2012.

Diaz struck out all three batters in the ninth inning, becoming the first player to ever strike out every batter he faced to close out a no-hitter. It was also the first time since 1990 that the first no-hitter of the season was a combined effort.

It was a scoreless game on both sides until the fifth inning when Jeff McNeil's base hit brought home Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha, with Pete Alonso's solo home run an inning later giving the Mets their winning margin.

Aaron Nola was no slouch on the mound for the Phillies, with nine strikeouts through six complete innings to go with three earned runs from seven hits and no walks.

The win moves the Mets' record to 15-6 – the best in the MLB.

Showtime for Shohei in Chicago

Just one game back in the standings from the Mets, the Los Angeles Angels claimed another stylish win as they defeated the Chicago White Sox 5-1.

It was a terrific pitching performance from the Angels staff as starter Jimmy Herget was pulled after just three innings, with six relievers combining to hold the White Sox scoreless the rest of the way.

With the bat, Shohei Ohtani made sure fans did not have to wait long to get their money's worth, sending a high fastball on a 3-1 count back over the pitcher's head and over the center-field wall. It was the Angels' second homer of the opening frame after Taylor Ward hit a lead-off bomb to start the game.

Guardians win back-and-forth thriller

In a game with five lead changes, the Cleveland Guardians prevailed 9-8 against the Oakland Athletics.

A Jose Ramirez solo home run gave the Guardians a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but it was short-lived as the Athletics responded with four runs in the bottom of the frame, with three coming home on a 407-foot Sean Murphy home run.

The momentum shifted again in the third inning as an Andres Gimenez grand slam pushed the Guardians back ahead 5-4, but once again the Athletics answered straight back, scoring the next four runs to lead 8-5.

Cleveland had the last laugh in the seventh inning, as a Ramirez double brought two runs home to trim the deficit to one, before a two-run Josh Naylor homer made it 9-8, allowing Emmanuel Clase to close things out with the save.

An imposing Shohei Ohtani claimed his first win of the MLB season as the Los Angeles Angels defeated the Houston Astros 6-0 on Wednesday.

Ohtani threw 81 pitches on a night where an 85-pitch limit seemed likely, as well as getting two at-bats in a six-run first inning.

The reigning American League MVP pitched perfect into the sixth inning, with a career-best 12 strikeouts, while also getting two hits and two RBIs in the shutout.

With the Astros traditionally providing him trouble, the 27-year-old did not allow a baserunner until Jason Castro hit a single with one out in the sixth.

The Angels moved to 8-5 with the win, leading the Seattle Mariners by a game atop the AL West.

Tapia leads Blue Jays to win over Red Sox

Raimel Tapia hit his maiden home run since joining from the Colorado Rockies, with a two-run slam in a five-run second inning as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Boston Red Sox 6-1.

Jose Berrios claimed his first win in three starts this season, giving up just one run and eight hits in six innings, with six strikeouts and a solitary walk.

Meanwhile, Nick Pivetta gave up five runs, seven hits and four walks on the way to being pulled before the fifth inning – a second time in as many starts for the Canadian.

Giants ride Rodon to victory

Carlos Rodon broke a franchise record for the San Francisco Giants in their 5-2 win over the New York Mets.

After signing from the Chicago White Sox, Rodon struck out eight over five scoreless innings and moved to 27 over his first three starts, breaking the previous record of 26 set by Cliff Melton in 1937.

While Joc Pederson, Brandon Crawford and Wilmer Flores helped build an early 3-0 lead, Rodon was the star of the show, limiting the National League East-leading Mets to three hits and two walks on 95 pitches.

After seven consecutive road games to start their season, the New York Mets put on a show for their home crowd at Citi Field in a 10-3 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Making his second start of the season, Chris Bassitt was lights out again for the Mets, pitching six full innings for six strikeouts while only giving up one run and four total baserunners.

After Pete Alonso drove in the first two runs through two sacrifice-fly balls, Robinson Cano delivered the first big shot of the day with a solo home run in the third inning, before Francisco Lindor bombed a two-run jack in the fifth frame.

Starling Marte would get in on the action in the eighth inning, connecting on a 391-foot three-run homer, before Lindor added his second long ball of the day in the very next at-bat.

 

 

 

Orioles walk-off with a walk

The New York Yankees went down 2-1 in extra innings against the Baltimore Orioles as the winning run was gifted home plate with a walk.

Giancarlo Stanton was the lone bright spot for the Yankees on the offensive side of the ball, getting three hits from five at-bats and driving in New York's only run.

The two starting pitchers – Jordan Montgomery for the Yankees and Jordan Lyles for the Orioles – combined for 10 innings of work for only one earned run.

The Milwaukee Brewers rode a quality start from Brandon Woodruff to a 5-1 home win against the St Louis Cardinals.

After a horrible first showing where he conceded seven runs in less than four innings, Woodruff was terrific in a bounce-back performance on Thursday, pitching five scoreless frames and allowing only four baserunners.

Milwaukee was always in control of the contest, leading 4-0 after three innings thanks to a big home run from Omar Narvaez and RBI hits to Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Renfroe.

However, the best hit of the game belonged to the Cardinals, as Tommy Edman blasted a big 423-foot consolation home run in the eighth inning for the visiting side's only score.

After going one-for-four with a double, Brewers star Christian Yelich now has hits in five of his past six games as he looks to return to form following two down seasons by his standards.

Ohtani gets grand-slammed

Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani was on the receiving end of a Jonah Heim grand slam as the Los Angeles Angels lost to the Texas Rangers 10-5.

Ohtani, who was the Angels' starting pitcher and lead-off hitter, was disappointing on the mound on Thursday, giving up six runs in less than four innings, and finished the game one-for-four in the batter's box after a ninth-inning double.

It was a frustrating game for the Angels after it started so well, as Mike Trout hit one of the biggest home runs of his career in the first inning, travelling 472 feet.

Yankees get out of a jam

Leading 3-0 heading into the ninth inning, the New York Yankees found themselves in a sticky situation when closer Aroldis Chapman walked three consecutive Toronto Blue Jays batters to load the bases with no outs.

Chapman was pulled from the game and replaced with Michael King, who struck out George Springer. 

King then got Bo Bichette to line out to second base for a game-ending double play as Matt Chapman got caught too far away from first base when the catch was made.

St Louis Cardinals ace pitcher Adam Wainwright was nearly flawless as he led his side to a 9-0 Opening Day shutout of the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

Wainwright pitched six scoreless innings, giving up five hits and no walks before being relieved to begin the seventh inning, finishing with 81 pitches.

It was far from a stressful game for the home side, scoring in the first inning through a Tyler O'Neill RBI single, before O'Neill smashed a three-run bomb over the wall an inning later to lead 4-0 through two frames.

The middle innings moved quickly as neither team was able to string baserunners together, but the Cardinals gave the home fans some more to cheer for in the eighth inning with home runs to Tommy Edman and Nolan Arenado.

J.T. Brubaker took the loss for the Pirates, finishing with four hits, three walks and four earned runs in three innings of work.

Super Suzuki wins debut

The Chicago Cubs' high-profile international signing, Seiya Suzuki, collected a hit and two walks from four at-bats in a 5-4 home win against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Kyle Hendricks pitched well for the home side, conceding one earned run to go with seven strikeouts before being withdrawn in the sixth inning.

The big moment for Suzuki came as he led-off the fifth inning, sending a base hit to shallow left field for his first career knock after signing a five-year, $85million deal out of the Japanese league this off-season.

The Bobby Witt Jr era begins in Kansas City

While Suzuki is favourite to take home the NL MVP, the Kansas City Royals' Bobby Witt Jr is the favourite in the AL, and delivered on debut in his side's 3-1 home win against the Cleveland Guardians.

After three outs from his first three at-bats, Witt delivered when it mattered, finding the gap with a RBI double in the eighth inning to give his side a 2-1 lead, and then came around and scored himself to finish it off.

Ohtani makes history in Angels loss    

It was not a great Opening Day for the Los Angeles Angels, but reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani made history once again.

In the Angels' 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros, Ohtani became the first player to start on the pitchers' mound and lead-off the batting, throwing and facing Los Angeles' first pitch of the season.

He finished with nine strikeouts and one earned run before being withdrawn in the fifth inning after 80 pitches, while going zero-for-four from his plate appearances.

 

Thursday's results

Atlanta Braves 3-6 Cincinnati Reds

St Louis Cardinals 9-0 Pittsburgh Pirates

Kansas City Royals 3-1 Cleveland Guardians

Chicago Cubs 5-4 Milwaukee Brewers

New York Mets 5-1 Washington Nationals

Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2 San Diego Padres

Los Angeles Angels 1-3 Houston Astros

 

Red Sox at Yankees

The two historic rivals will kick off their seasons at Yankee Stadium on Friday in the first scheduled game of the day.

Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani will get an early opportunity to display his two-way talents again in MLB in 2022, starting at both pitcher and designated hitter on Opening Day. 

Ohtani was the clear American League MVP in 2021 after starring on the mound as well as at the plate. 

The Japanese sensation finished the season with a 3.18 ERA and 9-2 record while hitting 46 home runs – third behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez (both 48). 

A new rule this season, which allows Ohtani to continue to hit in the lineup after he exits as a pitcher, should work to the Angels' benefit. 

It was no surprise then that manager Joe Maddon confirmed on Friday the 27-year-old would be the team's starter at home to the Houston Astros on April 7. 

"It just tastes right, feels right, is right," Maddon said, before detailing the conversation he had with Ohtani. 

"It was, 'Well, if I have to.' Something like that. He's self-deprecating. He's got that kind of sense of humour. He's a good man." 

The Angels will be hoping for a much-improved season in 2022, having finished last year fourth in the AL West with a 77-85 record, missing the playoffs for a seventh straight year. 

Those underwhelming results led Ohtani, who is out of contract after the 2023 season, to express his frustration about playing on a losing team, prompting suggestions he wanted to leave LA. 

After a pair of frustrating seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani was finally healthy in 2021, and he answered every challenge put before him on the way to an MVP season. 

The two-way sensation was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player on Thursday – early Friday in Japan – on the heels of a season that saw him perform feats that left fans and peers alike in awe. 

Ohtani easily led MLB players in WAR (wins above replacement) at 9.1 as he finished third in the majors with 46 home runs while also striking out 156 batters in 130.1 innings in 23 starts as a pitcher. 

The latter was especially impressive considering Ohtani pitched only 1.2 innings the previous two seasons combined as he recovered from elbow surgery, but the 27-year-old handled the workload with relative ease this season. 

"It was definitely challenging, but at the same time I had a lot of fun with it,” Ohtani told reporters through an interpreter on a conference call.

"I felt like the expectations from the team were very high and I wanted to do my best to try to answer those expectations."

He added: "I’ve always dealt with a lot of doubters, especially from my days in Japan. I tried to not let that pressure get to me. I just wanted to have fun and see what kind of numbers I could put up, and what kind of performance I could put up." 

After the voting results were announced Thursday, with Ohtani easily outdistancing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien to win, former MLB pitcher CC Sabathia tweeted that the two-way star is the "BEST PLAYER I'VE EVER SEEN". 

Ohtani's Angels team-mate Mike Trout, the last unanimous AL MVP in 2014, also lauded his friend's performance. 

"Shohei’s season was nothing short of electric," Trout said in a statement released by the team. "At times, I felt like I was back in Little League. To watch a player throw eight innings, hit a home run, steal a base and then go play right field was incredible.

"What impresses me the most about him though, is the way he carries himself both on and off the field. With so much on his plate daily, he still manages to do it with a smile. Congratulations Shohei!"

Angels manager Joe Maddon added in a statement: "Shohei came to the States to play among the best on both sides of the ball and he accomplished that mission on the highest level

"Knowing him, this award is going to serve as motivation to exceed his previous accomplishments. I cannot wait to watch how his game helps push us to our goal of playing in the last game of the season and winning it. Congratulations to Shohei and his entire family on this special honour."

The best news for Maddon and the Angels is that Ohtani is under team control for the next two seasons, and is set to play 2022 on a team-friendly salary of $5.5million. 

Ohtani brushed off a question from reporters about a possible contract extension Thursday but made it clear how he feels about his team. 

"This is not the time to talk about contract stuff, but I want to make it clear that I love the Angels organisation and am looking forward to being a big part of the team for a long time," he said. "Right now I want to focus on winning next season with the Angels."

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was a unanimous choice as the American League's Most Valuable Player for 2021, while Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies took home the National League award. 

It was the first time since 1987 neither league's MVP appeared in the postseason, but Ohtani and Harper were rewarded for their overall dominance. 

The 27-year-old Ohtani electrified baseball with an all-round game not seen in the 100 years since Babe Ruth gave up pitching to focus on hitting full-time and was the runaway winner in voting by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. 

Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes for a total of 420 points. Toronto Blue Jays star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. received all but one second-place vote as he compiled 269 points, and Marcus Semien of the Toronto Blue Jays was third with 232 points. Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees (171 points) and Carlos Correa of the Houston Astros (163) were next in the voting. 

Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs and an MLB-leading eight triples and also stole 26 bases while posting a .865 on base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

He was also dominant at times as a pitcher, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts while striking out 156 in 130.1 innings. 

Harper received 348 points, taking 17 of the 30 first-place votes. Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals was second with 274 points and six first-place votes, while Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres was third with 244 points and two first-place votes.

Brandon Crawford of the San Francisco Giants (213, four) and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers (185, one) rounded out the top five. 

Harper, 29, led the majors with a 1.044 OPS as he hit .309 with 35 home runs and an MLB-best 42 doubles.

He also won the NL MVP award in 2015 while playing for the Washington Nationals. 

 

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