MLB’s Field of Dreams game in Dyersville, Iowa, on Thursday night, set the bar high for the dream individual matchup of the season. Some 1,600 miles away in Anaheim, Calif., far from any cornfield, the two top contenders for the American League MVP award, Shohei Ohtani and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., battled in their lone matchup of the season. It didn’t provide the late, fairy-tale dramatics of baseball’s other marquee event of the night, despite being located much closer to both Hollywood and Disneyland, where such stories are regularly told. But it did neatly further the MVP narrative in favor of Ohtani, a once-in-a-lifetime player who got the better of Guerrero to solidify his standing as the sport’s most talented superstar in a 6–3 Angels win.
The first inning was a microcosm of the AL MVP race. After Ohtani retired George Springer and Marcus Semien, Guerrero sneaked a single through the left side of the infield on the first pitch he saw, an 87-mph sinker. Victory! But it would be Guerrero’s most noteworthy accomplishment of the night, and it was not enough.
Ohtani cheerfully waved to his rival on first base, then made sure he was stranded there by inducing a flyout from Teoscar Hernández. The man they call “Shotime” then led off the bottom half of the frame by drilling a two-strike, 94-mph fastball from José Berríos to left center for a double, his MLB-leading 68th extra-base hit of the year. It was also his 20th extra-base hit at least 112 mph this season, five more than anyone else, per MLB.com’s Sarah Langs.