1 of 5 | Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani is on pace for 60 home runs this season. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 4 (UPI) -- MLB star Shohei Ohtani left the mound early because of cramps, but remained lethal at the plate, swatting his 40th home run of the season in a Los Angeles Angels loss to the Seattle Mariners.
The pitcher/designated hitter smacked the 390- foot blast in the bottom of the eighth inning of the 5-3 setback Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.
"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 told reporters. "I've always trusted him and his body."
Ohtani allowed three hits and no runs through the first four innings of his 21st start of the season. He was then replaced by relief pitcher Jose Soriano because of the cramping in his right middle finger.
"It's a finger, so I'm not overly concerned, but we'll get it checked," Nevin said. "He was obviously fine to hit."
Neither team scored in the fifth inning. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez then hit a 376-foot solo homer to lead off the sixth to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.
Angels first baseman C.J. Cron plated Ohtani with an RBI single in the bottom of the inning, tying the score. Third baseman Mike Moustakas followed with an RBI double off a 3-2 sinker to give the Angels a one-run edge.
The Angels pushed their advantage to two runs when Ohtani stepped up to the plate as the second batter in the bottom of the eighth. The Angels star took a called strike and fell behind 1-2 against Mariners relief pitcher Isaiah Campbell.
He then obliterated a 2-2 fastball to right-center for his solo homer.
The Angels appeared en route to their 57th win of the season until their bullpen unraveled in the ninth. Relief pitcher Carlos Estevez issued back-to-back walks to catcher Cal Raleigh and first baseman Ty France to start the half inning.
Right fielder Dominic Canzone singled two pitchers later, loading the bases. Estevez struck out designated hitter Teoscar Hernandez in the next at-bat.
Left fielder Cade Marlowe then settled in against the right-handed pitcher. Estevez earned an 0-2 lead in the count by forcing two swinging strikes.
He then fired in a 99.8-mph fastball, which Marlowe hit over the right-center field fence for a 405-foot, go-ahead grand slam.
Mariners relief pitcher Andres Munoz struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to earn his fourth save this season.
Ohtani went 2 for 2 with two runs scored, two walks and an RBI in the loss. He is now hitting .310 with a league-leading 40 home runs and 82 RBIs.
He remains on pace to hit about 20 more home runs this season, which could bring his total to 60. Thursday's home run was Ohtani's first since July 28, snapping a five-game long ball skid.
Ohtani owns a 3-32 ERA and is 9-5 over his 21 starts as a pitcher in 2023.
Marlowe went 2 for 4 with four RBIs and a run scored in the Mariners win. The Mariners rookie is hitting .333 (10 for 30) through 12 games this season.
Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford also recorded two hits and reached base on a walk in the victory.
The Angels (56-54) will host the Mariners (57-52) at 9:38 p.m. EDT Friday at Angel Stadium.