Ohtani reached base twice in three at-bats, drove in his 89th run and lowered his ERA to 2.43 in 148 total innings.
“I’ve said it before: He’s the most valuable player of our game right now,” said Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, who has a unique view on the MVP chase as a former Yankees coach. “Until somebody can come in and do the things he does on both sides, I don’t see it going any other way. I love Aaron Judge like a son, but I’ll continue to say it: [Ohtani] can take over a baseball game like nobody can.”
One day after the teams combined to hit seven home runs, Ohtani and Mariners starter George Kirby did not allow a long ball. Seattle’s Taylor Trammell hit a home run in the eighth inning off Jaime Barria, his fourth of the season.
Ohtani gave the Angels a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when he followed Mike Trout‘s single with a double off the left-field wall. Trout scored when the rebound eluded Mariners left fielder Jesse Winker.
Ohtani helped make it 2-0 in the fourth inning when he worked a leadoff walk against Kirby, moved to third on a single and a wild pitch and then scored on a groundout by Matt Duffy.
On the mound, Ohtani (13-8) was barely threatened, allowing one Seattle runner to reach second base. He gave up three hits with one walk and eight strikeouts, his most in three starts this month. Ohtani now has 196 strikeouts on the season.
“I don’t like to self-critique myself in any way,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I’m having a better season this year than I had last year.”
The Mariners entered the four-game series tied for the top spot in the American League wild-card chase but are now two games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and a half game in back of the Tampa Bay Rays. Seattle holds the final wild-card spot, five games ahead of the Baltimore Orioles.
Although they are already assured of a losing record this season, the Angels improved to 9-8 against the Mariners.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.