ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Los Angeles Angels (35-30) celebrated Christmas early this year, with a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners (30-32) on Friday at Angel Stadium during their annual “Christmas in June” night.
Ohtani stole the show at the plate, as he swung for his 17th home run of the season with a monster two-run shot that traveled a projected 440 feet, according to MLB.com, in the bottom of the third inning.
His offensive performance made up for his shaky start on the mound, including allowing a two-run home run to Jarred Kelenic in the first inning. Ohtani went 3-for-4 on the night a double and a single to go with his home run. He was a triple short of the cycle. He pitched five innings, allowing three hits and three runs while he struck out six.
Ohtani's pitching seems to have declined in comparison to his past two seasons. He walked five Mariners on Friday, including three in the first inning. He says there are adjustments he needs to make for the rest of the season, and he's also working on bouncing back from fatigue.
"[I need to work] not only on my sweeper but also my velocity and my fastball and also recovery. [My hard days] are the next day or two after pitching and seeing how my body reacts, soreness-wise," Ohtani said through a translator.
Angels manager Phil Nevin spoke on Ohtani's performance so far this season.
"He's had some slow starts in games. He's walked the leadoff hitter I don't know how many times this season. I feel like he did it his first four or five starts this year, but he always would come back, and those were his better games," Nevin said. "But five [walks] is too many, and he will tell you the same thing. I know he will put in the work and be better next time."
The 6-foot-4, 220-pound two-way player is looking to make his third All-Star appearance at this year's game in Seattle. Ohtani is third in the American League in home runs (17), seventh in RBI (44), fourth in hits (69) and third in slugging percentage (.563) and places in the top 15 for ERA (3.32) among pitchers.
Moniak swung for a big two-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning Friday to put the Angels up 5-3. He spoke on his evolution as a batter.
"I had got beat with the heater my first two at-bats, and I came back, and in that situation, I'm just trying to put a good swing on it," Moniak said. "Going into this year, I had a bit of a mindset change, going through  and  in Philly. The ups and downs had gotten to me a little bit, I had gotten a bit sensitive. But I've been working and feeling confident with my swing coming in."
These performances came against a talented pitcher in Luis Castillo, who is eighth in the American League in ERA (2.70).
The Mariners looked dominant in the first three innings, holding 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 go-ahead swing in the sixth.
The Mariners nearly got back in the game with a ninth-inning home run by Mike Ford, who was brought up from the minors June 1, that brought the game within one run. But the Angles held it down and snuck away with the win when Mike Trout caught a deep fly ball to seal it.
The Angels play Seattle two more times in Anaheim this weekend, and they'll need to Ohtani to continue his dominance if they are to keep climbing the American League standings.