Japanese rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani continued to impress in his sixth major league start Sunday, racking up 11 strikeouts while pitching three-hit ball into the seventh inning as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Minnesota Twins 2-1.
Despite dominating on the mound, April's American League Rookie of the Month did not get the win at Angel Stadium, but his efforts were not wasted after Zack Cozart secured the victory with a walk-off single.
Ohtani left the game after giving up his second walk with one out in the seventh. He was denied the win after reliever Cam Bedrosian allowed the game-tying RBI single by Joe Mauer.
"I was disappointed (about being pulled out), the game-tying run was meant to happen," Ohtani said. "I couldn't get the win, but winning the game is what matters most. I struck out batters whenever possible while getting them to (ground out and fly out), so I did a good job of pitching aggressively."
In an entertaining duel with Twins rookie starter Fernando Romero, Ohtani threw a season-high 103 pitches on his way to reaching a franchise-record 43 strikeouts by a pitcher in his first six games.
The 23-year-old right-hander had his slider working and clocked 160 kilometers per hour with his fastball, striking out five consecutive batters at one point.
"It's really important to mix up my pitches depending on the batter I'm facing. The biggest strength of a pitcher is to be able to throw all four pitches," Ohtani said.
Manager Mike Scioscia lauded Ohtani for his "phenomenal" outing.
"His stuff was electric, and I think his presence in a tight ball game was what Shohei is about. He's going to go out there and make pitches. He used all his pitches and probably had another handful in his back pocket," Scioscia said, according to mlb.com.
The two-way phenom is set to return to the Angels' batting lineup, where he is averaging .348 as a designated hitter, when they host the Houston Astros for a series beginning Monday. The 24-16 Angels are one game back from the AL West-leading Astros.