Shohei Ohtani was forced to exit the game early Thursday night against the Seattle Mariners and still managed to launch his 40th home run.
Ohtani, getting the pitching start for the Los Angeles Angels, left the mound after four scoreless innings due to cramping in his pitching hand and fingers.
The two-way star stayed in the lineup as the Angels’ designated hitter and hit a solo home run in the eighth inning to give LA a 3-1 lead.
“He told me his right middle finger was cramping, and he couldn’t straighten it out, so he couldn’t pitch anymore,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said, per MLB.com. “I’ve always trusted him and his body. It’s a finger, so I’m not overly concerned, but we’ll get it checked. He was obviously fine to hit.”
It was the second time in the past week that cramps have impacted the Angels’ star, with Ohtani forced to leave two prior games early due to cramping.
“It’s not just my finger,” Ohtani said through his translator. “I’ve been kind of getting cramps all over the place. I felt like maybe I could have gone another inning or two, but I’m trying to feel out how my hand feels, and it’s a 0-0 game. I couldn’t give up any runs, and I felt like it was better for the team to stop pitching there.”
Despite Ohtani’s MLB-leading home run, the Angels managed to blow a two-run lead in the ninth inning as Mariners rookie Cade Marlowe hit his first career grand slam as Seattle won 5-3 in Anaheim.
“He’s an awesome competitor,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “He’s not overthinking it. Just playing baseball. … That was some kind of swing. It’s 100 miles an hour at the top of the zone. As a young player, you’re just trying to get the bat there.”
Following the trade deadline, when the Angels went out and got help for their starting staff, LA has lost three in a row and are now four back of the final Wild Card spot in the American League.
“I wish I could have gone close to 100 pitches and save the bullpen, help them out,” Ohtani said.”But a loss is a loss. It happens. Just got to turn the page.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report