The Angels' Shohei Ohtani makes more history on the mound and at the plate
This is what he really came here to do.
On Sunday, Shohei Ohtani batted second in the Los Angeles Angels' lineup and started the game against the Chicago White Sox on the mound, a feat that had not been done since 1903. In his first at-bat, to silence any doubters, he hit a home run on the first pitch he saw.
Ohtani made a splash when he arrived in the U.S., wanting to be a pitcher and a hitter. MLB teams bid on the right to sign him after he was posted by the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan, and he signed with the Angels on Dec. 8, 2017.
In three seasons with the Angels, Ohtani has flashed potential greatness but has also struggled with injuries. He won AL Rookie of the Year in 2018 after becoming the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to hit 15 home runs and pitch 50 innings in a season.
As a hitter, Ohtani finished his first MLB season with a .285 batting average, 22 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 61 RBIs. As a pitcher, he recorded a 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 10 starts. He matched Babe Ruth a second time, becoming the second MLB player with 10 pitching appearances and 20 home runs in a season.
However, following the 2018 season, Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery, removing him from pitching contention until at least 2020. He returned to the mound on July 26, 2020, but made only two pitching appearances that season, shut down because of a flexor strain in his right elbow.
Now, Ohtani is back and taking things to the next level.
To this point, when healthy, Ohtani was part of the Angels' starting rotation, and he was the designated hitter (and sometimes outfielder) on non-pitching days. He had never filled both roles in the same game.
Further, Ohtani batted second in the Angels' lineup Sunday, making him the first pitcher to bat in the top two since Jack Dunleavy for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903. Since 1976, only two pitchers have hit when the DH was available: Andy Sonnanstine in 2009 and Madison Bumgarner in 2016.
"He has the ability as a hitter to be an All-Star. He also has the ability as a pitcher to be an All-Star," FOX Sports MLB Analyst Ben Verlander said of Ohtani. "The fact that he does both at the highest level is absolutely insane.
"What he’s doing makes him one of the most exciting players in the league. This hasn’t been done in baseball. And the whole world is rooting for him."
What Verlander said.
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So how'd it go? Here's the breakdown of Ohtani's night:
- Ohtani recorded one strikeout and two groundouts. He walked one batter.
- He hit a home run on the first pitch in his first at-bat.
- Ohtani recorded two strikeouts and one groundout.
- He lined out to center in his second at-bat.
- The first batter reached on an infield single. Ohtani then recorded a lineout to first and two groundouts.
- Ohtani did not bat.
- Ohtani struck out three and walked two.
- In his third at-bat, he grounded out with two on base to end the inning.
- The top of the inning was a wild one, featuring a lineout, an infield single, a fielder's choice, a pickoff error, two walks, a wild pitch, a strikeout, a passed ball, a throwing error and, finally, a groundout. The White Sox scored three runs in the process.
- Of more concern to baseball fans, Ohtani ended the inning with a possible injury after a collision with Jose Abreu at home plate. Steve Cishek recorded the final out.
- Later on the broadcast, it was revealed that Ohtani is thought to be OK but will be reevaluated by the team. And baseball breathed a sigh of relief.
- Pitching: 4.2 innings, two hits, one earned run, seven strikeouts, five walks, 1.93 ERA
- Hitting: home run, lineout, groundout, .333 batting average