Ohtani and Judge both hit home runs as American League MVP race intensifies

·3-min read

Shohei Ohtani continues to put forward his case for back-to-back American League (AL) MVP awards as the All-Star pitcher blasted two home runs in the Los Angeles Angels' 10-0 home win against the Detroit Tigers on Monday.

Ohtani, who was also named an All-Star as a batter, hit a double in the first inning, and then connected on a 382-foot, two-run homer with his next at-bat in the third frame.

He was robbed of another hit when his 100mph line drive was caught by the Tigers first-baseman, but there was nothing they could do about his massive 416-foot launch in the seventh inning for his second home run of the game.

Also getting in on the fun was three-time AL MVP Mike Trout, who had a single, a double and a home run as the Angels' two superstars combined to go six-for-nine at the plate with three home runs and two doubles.

Ohtani is now tied for sixth in the majors with 32 home runs this season, while Trout is tied for 10th with 30 home runs. Trout has played 16 games fewer than any other player with 30 homers, and Ohtani is also eighth in the majors for strikeouts as a pitcher (181 in 23 starts).

On the mound, Jose Suarez was spectacular for the Angels, pitching seven scoreless innings while only giving up three hits and one walk, striking out seven.

Judge homers for third consecutive day

Ohtani's biggest challenger for the AL MVP, and the heavy favourite, Aaron Judge hit a home run for the third day in a row to help his New York Yankees defeat the Minnesota Twins 5-2 at home.

Judge's hot streak has now seen him hit five home runs from his past seven games, taking his league-leading tally to 54 – 18 more than any other player. He is now seven home runs away from the Yankees' all-time record of 61 in a season, set 61 years ago, in 1961, by Roger Maris.

His big hit on Monday came at the perfect time, with his two-run homer in the sixth inning breaking a 2-2 tie to put the Yankees up 4-2, allowing Wandy Peralta and Clay Holmes to close the door with sharp pitching out of the bullpen.

Debutant pitchers make history

Two pitchers in their very first career start tossed at least six scoreless innings in shutout wins, with Ryne Nelson carrying the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 5-0 win and Hunter Brown delivering for the Houston Astros in a 1-0 result.

Nelson pitched seven innings, striking out seven batters while allowing four hits and one walk. Brown pitched six innings, giving up three hits and one walk while striking out five.

It is the first time in MLB history that two debutant starting pitchers delivered a scoreless outing with at least five strikeouts on the same day.