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The race for American League MVP will come down to Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge, and as the New York Yankees’ slugger is nearing a home run record, Ohtani hit a milestone Wednesday that put him in a man with just one club.
Otani became the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs and 10 pitching wins in a single season. He helped the Los Angeles Angels beat the Yankees 3-2, taking the series to one of the best teams in baseball.
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He finished the series 5-for-12 against the Yankees with 2 homers and 5 RBIs.
“It definitely motivates me to do better. I mean experimenting with hardware,” he told reporters through a translator. “It’s something I think about most of the time, but I try to take it piece by piece and work it out.”
Otani also became the first Japanese-born player to hit 30 home runs in consecutive seasons.
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The reigning AL MVP has been likened to Babe Ruth in many ways, but even “The Great Bambino” didn’t finish Wednesday’s game against Otani. Ruth played from 1914 to 1935. He won 10 or more games with the Boston Red Sox from 1915 to 1918, but didn’t really start playing until 1919.
The next step for Ohtani will be to do that in the playoffs. The Angels have won fewer than 80 games since he joined Los Angeles in 2018.
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This season is no exception. The team is fourth in the American League West, leading 57-74 after beating the Yankees.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.