DETROIT – Shohei Ohtani looked so eager to make an impact in his highly anticipated season debut that he swung so hard his helmet flew off his head more than once.
He finished 0-for-4 with an RBI groundout and walked once as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Detroit Tigers 5-2 Tuesday night.
Ohtani’s last at-bat had been on Sept. 30, a day before he underwent Tommy John surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm.
“It was fun,” Ohtani said. “Everything ended without a hitch and it seems like I’ll play again tomorrow. I’m a little relieved, too. Rather than just saying I made my season debut, I felt like I wanted to produce solid results.”
In his first plate appearance in more than seven months, Ohtani ripped a 90-mph (145-kph) fastball foul against Daniel Norris (1-1) but was eventually called out on strikes.
He grounded out to short in a three-run third, scoring Zack Cozart in the process. He was struck out by Norris a second time in the fifth.
Ohtani connected off Eduardo Jimenez in the seventh but was robbed by third baseman Jeimer Candelario. He drew a full-count walk in the ninth.
“The thing above all is that we won,” Ohtani said. “Following that, I felt steady from my first to last turn in the batter’s box, and it was good to be able to do so while staying focused. If I can keep it up, I’ll have better at-bats tomorrow.”
Angels manager Brad Ausmus wasn’t overly concerned by Ohtani’s hitless night.
“Baseball is certainly not the type of sport that you focus on one night,” Ausmus said. “We’re looking at using him as a DH for the vast majority of the next 4½ months. I’m not overly concerned about the immediate results, but just the long-term results.”
The 24-year-old two-way player isn’t expected to pitch this year as he recovers from his surgery. But the Angels, who are under .500, are hoping he can provide a boost at the plate.
“He injects some offense, for sure,” Ausmus said. “He’s got big power.”
Ohtani hit .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs in 367 plate appearances last year. He became the first player since Babe Ruth with at least 10 homers and four pitching wins in the same season. As a DH, Ohtani became the first player with 15 homers as a batter and 50 strikeouts as a pitcher in the same season.
He was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 51⅔ innings in 10 starts, limited by a torn right elbow ligament that required surgery. Ohtani has said he has “no regrets” about last year when he hit for the Angels until the end of the season, delaying reconstructive surgery and his ability to pitch again until 2020.
Ausmus said Tuesday that Ohtani will likely be used regularly in the No. 3 spot, while general manager Billy Eppler hinted the player will not have to start taking days off from hitting until September or October as required by his throwing rehab.
“He still has other layers that he has to get through here in the next six or seven months so that he can show up in next year’s spring training and be a fully abled player without restriction,” Eppler said.
“We’re not all the way to that goal yet, but we are at the point of him being able to step in the batter’s box.”
Athletics 2, Reds 0
In Oakland, Mike Fiers pitched his second career no-hitter, getting help from two spectacular defensive plays against Cincinnati.
Fiers followed up his 2015 gem for Houston against the Dodgers with a 131-pitch masterpiece to become the 35th pitcher with multiple no-hitters in his career. He walked two, struck out six and ended it by fanning Eugenio Suarez with a big curveball.
The A’s poured out of the dugout to mob Fiers in celebration after the final out in front of the few thousand fans who stuck around — the game started more than 1½ hours late because of a light malfunction at the Coliseum. Fiers tipped his hat to the crowd and raised his arms in triumph as he walked off.
“I’m glad they got the lights working,” Fiers said.
The 33-year-old Fiers (3-3) raised his lifetime record to 57-58. The right-hander began the night with a 6.81 ERA this season, and has been a journeyman for much of his career.
A journeyman with a special place in the record book, that is.
Fiers became the seventh pitcher to throw no-hitters for multiple teams — Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson and Cy Young are among the others — and clearly was aware of what was at stake in the later innings.
“I knew. I don’t like when guys are like they don’t know,” Fiers said.
Yankees 5, Mariners 4
In New York, one more delay wasn’t going to dampen the celebration around this unexpected comeback for the Yankees.
Cameron Maybin narrowly beat right fielder Jay Bruce’s throw home on DJ LeMahieu’s game-ending, ninth-inning single.
Three batters after Gio Urshela’s tying two-run homer with one out, LeMahieu drove a single to right off Roenis Elías. Maybin charged in from second and slid feet-first around a tag from catcher Omar Narváez. Plate umpire Dana DeMuth’s safe call was upheld on replay review.
“What a great effort,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We didn’t play perfect, obviously, but we hung around enough and the next guy up again got it done.”
Joe Harvey (1-0) pitched out of a jam in the ninth for New York, getting his first big league win.
Masahiro Tanaka got the start for New York, lasting 6⅓ innings and allowing a pair of runs on five hits with four strikeouts.
In Other Games
White Sox 2, Indians 0
Red Sox 8, Orioles 5
Twins 3, Blue Jays 0
Royals 12, Astros 2
Pirates 5, Rangers 4
Rays 6, Diamondbacks 3
Brewers 6, Nationals 0
Phillies 11, Cardinals 1
Cubs 5, Marlins 2
Giants 14, Rockies 4
Dodgers 9, Braves 0
Mets 7, Padres 6
IN FIVE EASY PIECES WITH TAKE 5