Angels’ Shohei Ohtani adds to highlight reel with go-ahead HR in 9th off one of MLB’s top closers

Matt Barnes was one out away from sealing a Red Sox victory when Angels DH Shohei Ohtani stepped into the box.

It was a mano a mano battle between one of baseball’s best pitchers and the emerging two-way superstar.

Ohtani won the battle.

He hit a monster two-run home run that curled around the Pesky Pole at Fenway Park to give the Angels a 6-5 lead in the top of the ninth inning Sunday. LA went on to win by that score.

Teeing off against Barnes is no easy feat. Before Ohtani batted in the ninth, Barnes had allowed two hits and no runs in his previous 8 2/3 innings. For the season, he was averaging 15.6 strikeouts per nine innings and had allowed just one home run in 18 appearances. At one point, he had a negative FIP, something that is unheard of. 

But Ohtani managed to get the best of him Sunday and add another highlight to his superb season.

Ohtani’s homer was his 12th in 2021, tying him for the MLB lead with the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. and the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger. His 29 RBIs are tied for the Angels’ team lead with Jared Walsh. His .597 slugging percentage is second on the team only to Mike Trout.

Ohtani has been spectacular as a pitcher as well. He has thrown 25 2/3 innings over five outings, with a sparkling 2.10 ERA and 14 strikeouts per nine.

In short, he is one of the game’s most electric players right now. Barnes knows that.

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