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The Sports Report: Shohei Ohtani for MVP and Cy Young?

Shohei Ohtani walks to the dugout after the seventh inning Wednesday.
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Ethan Sears on the Angels: There are times when it’s easy to forget that what Shohei Ohtani is doing is all but unprecedented. And then there are times like Wednesday night.

Ohtani, pitching and hitting leadoff, made one mistake all game. The rest will go down as one of the best individual games played in Major League Baseball this year.

That mistake — a first-pitch curveball that Willi Castro took deep in the fifth inning — accounted for the lone run Ohtani gave up over eight innings. He threw just 90 pitches. He struck out eight. He hit his 40th home run, which leads the majors.

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“What could you possibly say that has not already been said?” Angels manager Joe Maddon said after the game.

Even giving up a home run is rare for Ohtani, who came into Wednesday’s start with the second-best home run rate in the American League. But it was also the extent of the scoring Detroit would do against him in an eventual 3-1 win by the Angels that moved them back to .500 at 61-61.

Pitching and leading off, Ohtani extended a stretch that allowed him to come into Wednesday with a 1.69 ERA since the beginning of July. He regularly blew his fastball by hitters at 94 mph, used his splitter to finish guys off — Harold Castro, Renato Nuñez and Miguel Cabrera among them — and held the Tigers’ offense quiet all night.

In addition to the AL MVP, Ohtani might be putting himself on the map for the Cy Young Award.

“Making a case, absolutely,” Maddon said. “He’s in the middle of everything. Every award that’s gonna be given out this year, he’s in the middle of it.”

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DODGERS

Luca Evans on the Dodgers: The chant was so weak that, at first, it seemed almost like a question.

In first baseman Max Muncy’s initial at-bat in Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, between pitches, a faint few smatterings of “M-V-P” rang out amid a packed Dodger Stadium crowd.

Perhaps the lack of conviction was due to San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and his 34 home runs this season. Perhaps it was due to the stretch run that Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper is having. Perhaps it was the fact that Muncy had cooled off ever-so-slightly since the All-Star break.

But after the Dodgers slugger rounded the bases for the second time in just the fourth inning for his fifth home run in the last four games, pulling him within mere percentage points of Harper for the National League lead in OPS the fans’ earlier meek cries turned into a loud endorsement.

“MUN-CY!” “MUN-CY!” “MUN-CY!”

“It’s good, it’s great,” manager Dave Roberts said of hearing the MVP chants. “Whenever fans recognize you have a potential MVP, you’ve got to be doing something right.”

His two home runs and five RBIs powered the Dodgers to a 9-0 win — and, potentially, himself a fighting chance in the wide-open NL most valuable player race.

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LITTLE LEAGUE WORLD SERIES

Jack Harris on Little League: For the first time in almost three decades, a Los Angeles County team will participate in the Little League Baseball World Series beginning on Thursday.

Torrance Little League will open play in Williamsport, Pa., after finishing second place in the West Regional last week, becoming the first L.A. County team since Northridge in 1994 to reach the final stage of the national tournament.

“Coming to Williamsport is surreal,” coach Javier Chavez said. “It’s the biggest stage in Little League baseball. Playing on these beautiful fields and stadiums and having the exposure for the kids … it’s a dream come true for all of us.”

Here are five things to know as the event gets underway.

RAMS

Gary Klein on the Rams: One pass was tipped and intercepted by a Las Vegas Raiders safety. Another, seemingly thrown up for grabs, was picked off by a cornerback. Then another tipped pass was intercepted by former Rams linebacker Cory Littleton.

Those three turnovers by quarterback Matthew Stafford stood out Wednesday as the Rams held the first of two joint practices with the Raiders at the Rams’ Thousand Oaks training facility.

Neither Stafford nor Rams coach Sean McVay sounded overly concerned.

“I made a couple poor decisions that I wish I had back — that’s practice,” Stafford said, adding that the Rams were using, “some of the new stuff that we’re putting in, and I want to make sure I get reps at it. I’ve got to do a better job of making sure that we end up with the ball at the end of every play.”

McVay is not playing starters or other important role players during preseason games, making joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys and the Raiders significant opportunities to evaluate players, play-calls and schemes.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1909 — The first race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Twelve-thousand spectators watch Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win a five-mile race with an average speed of 57.4 miles per hour. The track’s surface of crushed rock and tar breaks up in a number of places and causes the deaths of two drivers, two mechanics and two spectators.

1921 — Detroit’s Ty Cobb gets his 3,000th career hit at age 34, the youngest player to reach that plateau.

1934 — Helen Hull Jacobs wins the women’s title in the U.S. Lawn Tennis Assn. championships.

1981 — Renaldo Nehemiah sets the world record in the 110 hurdles with a time of 12.93 seconds in a meet at Zurich, Switzerland.

1984 — Lee Trevino beats Gary Player and Lanny Wadkins by four strokes to take the PGA championship at Shoal Creek, Alabama.

1993 — Sergei Bubka wins his fourth consecutive pole vault title at the World Track and Field championships at Stuttgart, Germany.

1995 — Mike Tyson starts his comeback, knocking out Peter McNeeley in 89 seconds at Las Vegas. McNeeley’s manager Vinnie Vecchione jumps into the ring to stop the fight after his boxer is knocked down twice in the first round.

2001 — Michael Schumacher gets his fourth Formula One championship and matches Alain Prost’s series record of 51 victories by winning the Hungarian Grand Prix.

2016 — Usain Bolt scores another sweep, winning three gold medals in his third consecutive Olympics. At the Rio de Janeiro Games, Bolt turns a close 4x100 relay race against Japan and the United States into a typical, Bolt-like runaway, helping Jamaica cross the line in 37.27 seconds. Allyson Felix wins an unprecedented fifth gold medal in women’s track and field, running the second leg of the 4x100-meter relay team.

2018 — Jockey Drayden Van Dyke wins a record-tying seven races at Del Mar, including the $200,000 Del Mar Mile. He ties Hall of Famer Victor Espinoza for most wins in a single day in the seaside track’s history. Van Dyke’s only loss in eight mounts comes when he finishes second in the sixth race.

And finally

Highlights of Shohei Ohtani’s performance on Wednesday. Watch it here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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