Ohtani rewards Angels' faith with historic 1-hit shutout, 2 HRs over doubleheader

DETROIT -- Shohei Ohtani looked his manager in the eye and in just a few words, left no doubt of his intentions.

"I'll finish it," Los Angeles Angels manager Phil Nevin recalled Ohtani telling him after the eighth inning of what became the two-way superstar's first complete game in Major League Baseball. "He wanted it. I could see it, too."

Ohtani polished off his one-hit shutout of the Detroit Tigers, then continued his extraordinary day in the second game of Thursday's doubleheader, hitting two homers to increase his major-league-leading total to 38 before leaving the game with cramps.

Ohtani became the first player in major league history to throw a shutout in one half of a doubleheader and hit a homer -- much less two -- in the other.

"It's certainly something I've never seen -- I'm not sure at any level," Nevin said.

Hours before Ohtani delivered the message to his manager, the Angels delivered one of their own.

The franchise, desperate to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014, made a win-now trade to bolster its pitching staff and confirmed that Ohtani will stay for the rest of the season before he becomes a free agent.

"We're going to roll the dice and see what happens," Angels general manager Perry Minasian told reporters before Ohtani led Los Angeles to a 6-0 win over the Tigers in Game 1 of the doubleheader, just days before MLB's trade deadline.

Ohtani's start was his best in the majors. He gave up one hit, walked three and struck out eight on 111 pitches, including fastballs nearing 100 mph and sliders and splitters that left the Tigers flailing. Ohtani improved to 9-5 with a 3.43 ERA on the mound.

In Game 2, Ohtani returned to the designated hitter role. The left-handed hitter hit a two-run homer to left in the second inning and a line drive to right-center in the fourth before Nevin pulled him out of the game after he was grimacing in pain.

"He'll get some fluids in him and he'll be fine," Nevin said after the Angels' 11-4 victory, which gave them a three-game sweep at Detroit and nine wins in 11 games overall.

Ohtani became just the fifth player since 1900 to throw a shutout and hit two homers on the same day (single games and doubleheaders) and the first since Sonny Siebert in 1971, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

"We try not to take for granted what we have in him," Nevin said. "Hate to say that you expect greatness every day, but it's what we get. It's awesome to watch. Him performing at this level, when there is so much focus on one person, only the mentally strong are able to do that and that's what impresses me most about him."

It was just the latest display of why Ohtani could have landed a huge prospect haul in a trade, and why he's expected to cash in on perhaps the world's most lucrative contract in any sport this offseason.

Some speculate the 29-year-old might make $500 million to $600 million on the open market, but the recent developments haven't seemed to affect his thinking.

"From the beginning, my plan was to finish strong this season with the Angels," Ohtani said through an interpreter after his gem on the mound. "I don't think things are really going to change mentally.

"But all the people talking about the trades, that's going to be all gone. So I feel like I'm just focused on taking this team to the playoffs."

The Angels are, too.

They're motivated to get rid of their reputation for wasting the talents of MVPs Mike Trout and Ohtani. The Arte Moreno-owned ballclub has the majors' longest streaks of consecutive losing seasons (seven) and consecutive non-playoff seasons (eight, tied with Detroit).

The Angels plan to hold on to Ohtani for as long as they can.

"I never went up to Shohei and said, 'Hey, we're not trading you,'" Minasian said. "Think I made it pretty clear the last time we talked, I think, that he wasn't going anywhere."

Another factor in the decision, a source told ESPN on Wednesday, was that the Angels have been underwhelmed by the players offered in return for Ohtani.

The 2021 American League MVP leads the majors in homers and OPS at the plate and is among the leaders in opponent batting average and strikeouts on the mound. His 38 home runs are the most hit by an Angels player before August in franchise history, surpassing his own mark of 37 set in 2021, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"He's doing the impossible," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "We're playing against a generational talent."

When Chad Wallach tracked down a popup in foul territory for the final out of the fifth, Ohtani went out of his way to pick up the catcher's mask and hand it to him.

He really can do it all.

"I love Shohei Ohtani," Minasian said. "He comes in, prepares, works, goes out and performs on a nightly basis. Obviously, does both [hitting and pitching]. He's a great teammate. He takes this really seriously. He eats it. He sleeps it.

"He's somebody that we would love to have going forward."

Aiming to bolster their chances of challenging for the AL West title or earning a wild card if they fall short in the division, the Angels acquired right-handers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López from the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday night. Giolito is expected to make his Angels debut Friday night against Toronto.

"I think this is the first time in my six years that we're buyers," Ohtani said.

The Angels also made another decision, designating 2021 All-Star slugger Jared Walsh for assignment. Walsh has hit .119 with one homer and five RBIs in 28 games this season, coming off an injury-stunted 2022. He has been struggling with headaches and insomnia this year.

"Gone through some hard times, and he's trying to find it back," Nevin said. "I know he'll keep working. I hope he remains with us because I know when he gets on top of his game, we're a better team with him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.