Shohei Ohtani ends his brilliant season hungry for winning

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani pitched seven innings of one-run ball in his final game at Angel Stadium this season, striking out 10 Mariners amid the serenades of “M-V-P!” that have been the soundtrack to his summer.

Yet he left the mound with the score tied because his Los Angeles Angels teammates couldn’t score more than one run, denying Ohtani a chance for his 10th victory. When the Angels’ bullpen took over, its first two relievers swiftly surrendered four runs to playoff-contending Seattle in a 5-1 loss.

That sunny Sunday in Orange County neatly exemplified the gloomy context around the sensational season put together by Ohtani, a two-way superstar without precedent in the modern game.

Heading into the final week, Ohtani has 45 homers and 98 RBIs as a designated hitter along with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts on the mound. He is both one of the best pitchers and one of the best hitters in the major leagues, and he is widely expected to win his first AL MVP award this fall.

But baseball won’t get to enjoy Ohtani’s talents in the postseason because he plays for the Angels, a big-budget franchise mired in six consecutive losing seasons and seven straight non-playoff seasons, including all four of Ohtani’s stateside campaigns. The Halos’ loss to Seattle in their home finale was their 82nd of the season, officially extending the majors’ longest active streak of losing.

“It’s very frustrating, very disappointing,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “I always look forward to being in the playoff race at the end. I always think about that.”

The Angels have two works of baseball art, and owner Arte Moreno has hung them in a dingy, derelict gallery: Mike Trout has won two of his three MVP awards during the Angels’ six-year losing skid, and Ohtani is likely to win the third.

Ohtani is tied to the Angels for two more seasons under the terms of his move from Japan to the majors in late 2017, but he hasn’t had extension talks with the franchise beyond 2023. It’s a bit too early to predict his future, but Ohtani clearly wants the Angels to get better soon — and he is unafraid to say it.

“I really like the team, I love the fans and the atmosphere of the team,” Ohtani said. “But more than that, I want to win. That’s the biggest thing for me. So I’ll leave it at that.”

Ohtani was the third prominent member of the Angels in the past week to publicly call out the team’s personnel failures, particularly on a pitching staff that has been one of the majors’ lousiest for years.

Trout, who hasn’t played since May due to a nagging calf injury, and manager Joe Maddon both condemned the Halos’ largely ineffective roster-building work in recent years under two general managers.

“This can’t continue to go on,” Maddon said. “We can’t annually be in this position. This organization is better than that. We deserve better than that.”


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