ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels (35-30) celebrated Christmas earlier this year with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners (30-32) on Friday night at Angel Stadium during their annual party. Christmas in June”.
Los Angeles owned home plate with a dominating performance from phenom Shohei Ohtani, as well as a home run from Mickey Moniak. The two helped bring the Angels’ winning streak to five straight.
Ohtani stole the show at the plate, as he swung for his 17th homer of the season, with a monster two-run homer late in the third inning.
His offensive performance made up for his shaky start on the mound, after giving up a two-run first home run to Jarred Kelenic in the first inning. Ohtani went 3 for 4 on the night a double and a single to go along with his home run. He was a short cycle triple. He also pitched five innings, allowing three hits and three runs while striking out six.
Ohtani’s throwing appears to have diminished from his past two seasons. He walked five Mariners batters on the night, including three in the first inning. Ohtani says he needs to make some adjustments for the rest of the season, and he’s also working on recovery and fatigue.
“[I need to work] not only on my sweeper, but also on my velocity and my fastball, and also on recovery. [My hard days] are the next day or two after the throw and see how my body reacts, in terms of pain,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Angels manager Phil Nevin spoke about Ohtani’s performance so far this season.
“He’s had slow starts in games, he’s walked the leadoff batter I don’t know how many times this season. I feel like he’s made his first four or five starts this year, but he always came back and that was his best games,” Nevin said. “But five [walks] it’s too much, and he’ll tell you the same thing. I know he’s going to work and he’ll be better next time.”
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound two-way player is looking to make his third appearance at this year’s All-Star Game in Seattle. Ohtani is third in the American League in home runs (17), seventh in RBI (44), fourth in hits (69), third in slugging percentage (.563) and ranks in the top 15 in ERA (3.32) among pitchers.
In 2021, Ohtani became the first player in MLB history to be selected as an All-Star as a hitter and pitcher, and with All-Star voting now open, he hopes to do so again.
Moniak homered a big two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning to give the Angels a 5-3 lead. He talked about his evolution as a hitter.
“I had been beaten with the warmer my first two at bats, and I came back, and in this situation, I’m just trying to put a good swing on it,” Moniak said. “At the beginning of this year, I changed my mindset a bit, going through  And  in Philadelphia. The ups and downs had gotten to me a little, I had become a little sensitive. But I worked and I feel confident with my swing.”
Those performances came against a talented pitcher in Luis Castillo, who is eighth in the American League in ERA (2.70).
The Mariners looked dominant through the first three innings, limiting the Angels to one hit and no runs. Los Angeles caught fire after Ohtani’s homer in the third, followed by Luis Rengifo’s RBI single in the fourth and Moniak’s knockout in the sixth.
The Mariners nearly got back into the game after a ninth-inning home run by Mike Ford, who was raised from the minors on June 1, and brought the game down to a single run. But the Angles held on and walked away with the win after Mike Trout caught a deep ball to seal the win.
The Angels face Seattle twice more in Anaheim this weekend, and they’ll need Ohtani to continue his dominance to keep climbing the American League standings.