Angels’ Shohei Ohtani nearly throws no-hitter vs. Athletics

If baseball was nothing more than a video game, Shohei Ohtani would be the ultimate cheat code.

On Thursday, the two-way star made a no-hit bid against the Oakland Athletics in the eighth inning. He was four outs from completing the feat when Connor Capel hit a grounder that eluded shortstop Livan Soto and rolled into midfield.

His pitching prowess was nonetheless recognized by the announced crowd of 31,293, who earned him a standing ovation, complete with more chants of “MVP” in the Angels’ 4-2 win.

“That’s my mentality before every game to try and get that shotless or perfect game,” Ohtani said in Japanese through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

When asked if he thought he could finish the no-hitter, he said, “To be honest, I didn’t really feel my fastball tonight. The bike wasn’t as fast as normal. But my slider did its thing and it worked. I’m a little surprised I got through eight innings with my stuff.”

But his performance surprised no one.

Certainly not his manager.

“Every time he steps on the hill you can expect something special,” said interim manager Phil Nevin. “When we got through the seventh, I really thought it was going to happen.”

Certainly not his catcher.

“I don’t think anything Shohei does really surprises me because I think the sky’s the limit for him,” said Max Stassi. “He can do everything in this game and he’s proven that.”

Certainly not his MVP-winning teammate.

“Everybody thought he was going to do it,” Mike Trout said. “If he threw a no-hitter, the MVP talk would be ridiculous.”

Ohtani gave up just two hits and walked a hitter, hitting out 10 and going two for four with an RBI in eight innings.

Before retiring in the eighth straight singles – the second was struck by Dermis Garcia – Ohtani had a blemish: a walk over to Tony Kemp to start the game.

Kemp was wiped out on a doubles play and Ohtani faced the minimum batters for seven innings.

At one point, he batted four straight between the fourth and fifth innings. That fifth inning also ended with Ohtani sending a dribbler to first base. He jogged off the field with his fists clenched and went into the dugout.

Excitement at Ohtani’s championship built in the crowd as the innings progressed, each throw more valuable than the last. The “MVP” chants grew louder, and after the seventh-inning final — a sharp grounder for third baseman Luis Rengifo — the energy of the crowd turned into more than emotion but a physical electricity.

There were small moments of gratitude as Ohtani reached out to his teammates around him, like when he walked off the hill and pointed his finger to acknowledge Rengifo’s play to finish seventh.

Or the finger pointing thanks to his catcher Max Stassi catching a foul ball that surfaced high and landed at the back net.

Feeling bad for missing what was arguably a difficult ball to play on, Soto apologized to Ohtani for not helping to keep the no-hitter intact, but Ohtani said he wasn’t bitter about it .

Angels' Luis Rengifo throws fluid at starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani after a game.

Angels’ Luis Rengifo, right, throws fluid at starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani after a game against the Oakland Athletics Thursday at Angel Stadium.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Ohtani’s first hit of the night extended his winning streak to 14 games – the longest active streak in the majors – with an RBI single he got in the first inning from ace starter Cole Irvin.

It’s a career highlight for Ohtani, who previously played 11 games.

His two singles earned him his 24th and 25th hits in games he’s played this season.

Ohtani is scheduled for a final start, the final game of the Angels season in Oakland on Oct. 5.

Whether Ohtani is the designated hitter or even the starting pitcher, some level of greatness is always expected.

It’s expected by his team, by the opposing side, by the fans who fill Angel Stadium, even for a late September game in another losing season.

“Everyone is looking forward to this day. I think my parents only come when he serves,” Nevin joked ahead of Thursday’s game.

A manager Mark Kotsay added on how to prepare to hit Ohtani: “Like we did [Jacob] deGrom, just like we did with [Max] Scherzer, just like we did with the best pitchers in the game.”

The Angels offense as a whole chained 13 hits and four runs, three from the at-bats from Rengifo, Taylor Ward and Stassi, all of whom hit solo homers.

And that’s it

Archie Bradley and Mickey Moniak will end their seasons on the injured list.

Bradley, who was reactivated from the IL on September 27 after recovering from a broken elbow, was sent back to the IL after developing a forearm strain after booting up.

Moniak, who also returned from the IL earlier this month after recovering from a broken finger, was brought back to the IL with a bruise on his left hand. Angels’ Shohei Ohtani nearly throws no-hitter vs. Athletics

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