Baseball / MLB

Shohei Ohtani hits first homer of year during Angels' loss against Mariners

KYODO, AP

Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani hit his first home run of the season on Wednesday night, a three-run blast that briefly put the Angels ahead in a 10-7 loss to the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners’ Kyle Seager drove in three runs and Dylan Moore hit a three-run homer to help the team rally from two late deficits.

Moore connected during the Mariners’ five-run sixth, and Seager put the club ahead for good with a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of Seattle’s second victory of the season.

“It was a fun game,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “Obviously we did a lot of things well in the batter’s box tonight. Ton of pressure on them. We really did dominate the strike zone.”

Ohtani, serving as designated hitter and batting cleanup for the Angels at their empty home stadium, golfed a low curveball from Seattle starter Justin Dunn clear over the wall in right field in the fourth inning to give Los Angeles a 3-1 lead.

“It obviously caught me by surprise when he hit it,” Dunn said. “I was upset with myself. I kind of got away from my game plan there. That wasn’t what I was trying to do.”

A day earlier, Ohtani registered his first RBI of the season when he doubled in a run in the Angels’ 10-2 win over Seattle. He is now 3-for-19 with four RBIs this year.

“I was aware I might see that kind of pitch,” Ohtani said of Wednesday’s home run. “The main thing is, I wasn’t fixated on one thing.

“I’m not one of those who thinks it’s a good idea to swing at pitches out of the zone. Ideally, I want to pass on those and put good swings on fat pitches.”

Although Ohtani said his batting form is improving rapidly, he rued swinging and missing Dunn’s second pitch, also a curve.

“That second pitch was the best one I saw (to hit). If I can put a good swing on that one, then I’ll be doing even better.”

Ohtani returned to his dual role as pitcher and designated hitter for the Angels this season after undergoing surgery on his throwing elbow in October 2018.

Brian Goodwin homered to make it 4-1 in the fifth and added a two-run double that put the Angels up 7-6 in the sixth after they’d blown a three-run lead. Seattle surged back in front by battering Los Angeles’ bullpen, which flopped mightily in a game featuring four lead changes.

New Angels relievers Mike Mayers, Jacob Barnes and Ryan Buchter all struggled, yielding a combined seven runs, six hits and three walks while getting only three outs.

“A lot of the bullpen had a tough night, and that’s what we have to get ironed out,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “They’ll be back out there very shortly. We have a lot of confidence. We had what we wanted, but it just did not work out.”

Justin Upton connected in the sixth for the Angels, becoming the ninth active player with 300 homers. The former No. 1 overall pick is the 149th player in baseball history to reach the mark.

“It was a special night,” Upton said. “I definitely wish we had gotten the win, but I enjoyed that moment.”

Nationals 4, Blue Jays 0 (10)

In Washington, Toronto’s Shun Yamaguchi (0-2) gave up four runs — three earned — in extra innings and was tagged with his second loss of the season.

Adam Eaton’s bases-loaded chopper broke a scoreless tie in the 10th inning on a close play and Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a three-run triple as the Nationals snapped a three-game losing streak.

“They got really loud,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said after his team’s scoring output in the 10th equaled what the 2019 World Series champions managed to put together in the previous three games combined. “They love to win — and they love to celebrate.”

The game was in Washington’s ballpark but was officially the home opener for the Blue Jays.

Toronto batted in the bottom of each inning, wore its white uniforms, played its walk-up music and blared “OK Blue Jays,” the club’s traditional seventh-inning stretch staple.

The Blue Jays’ giant blue logo was displayed on the scoreboard — right below the white block letters spelling out “Nationals Park” — during batting practice. All of the manufactured crowd noise piped through the speakers offered “cheers” when Toronto did something good.

Except this game was played nearly 500 miles — about 775 kilometers — south of Toronto’s Rogers Centre, which is off-limits because Canada’s government did not want teams traveling in and out of there from the United States.

The Blue Jays will be using a minor league ballpark in Buffalo, but that’s still being upgraded to host major league games.

Dodgers 4, Astros 2 (13)

In Houston, the Dodgers and Astros showed no carry-over from a fracas in the series opener that led to suspensions, and Edwin Rios hit a two-run homer in the 13th inning to lift Los Angeles over Houston.

No pitches were thrown above or behind any batters, nobody made any ugly faces and everyone remained in their respective dugouts.

The loudest noise was the crack of Rios’ bat when he took Cy Sneed (0-1) deep for a leadoff homer — a two-run drive under the new extra-innings rule that starts with an automatic runner on second base.

Yankees 9, Orioles 3

In Baltimore, New York stepped in for the Miami and ruined the Orioles’ home opener, hitting three home runs to back right-hander Gerrit Cole.

Baltimore was originally slated to launch the home portion of the abbreviated 60-game schedule against Miami, but the Marlins were ordered to take a hiatus after several players and coaches contracted COVID-19 over the weekend.

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