Anaheim, California – Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani made his season debut as a pitcher Sunday night in a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox, pitching two-hit ball into the fifth inning in a no-decision and homering in his first at-bat.
Ohtani both hit and pitched in a regular season game for the first time since moving to the majors during the 2017 offseason and the 26-year-old celebrated the occasion with a home run from the No. 2 spot in the order.
The last time Ohtani hit in the same game he pitched during the regular season was in October 2017, during his fifth and final season with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.
On Sunday at Angel Stadium, Ohtani retired three of the first four White Sox batters he faced in the top of the first inning, then homered off starter Dylan Cease to drive in the first of the Angels’ two runs in the bottom half.
After he hit his second homer of the season, and 49th with the Angels to pass Kenji Johjima for sole possession of third place in MLB home runs by a Japanese player, Ohtani lined out and grounded out to finish 1-for-3.
On the mound, he pitched four shutout innings and appeared well on his way to getting his first win since May 2018. With two outs in the fifth, however, Ohtani made an errant pickoff attempt and issued back-to-back walks before a wild pitch brought Leury Garcia home for the visitors’ first run of the night.
Ohtani struck out seven and was charged with three runs — one earned — on two hits and five walks over 4⅔ frames. He threw 92 pitches.
“Overall, I threw some good pitches,” Ohtani said. “I got two outs in the fifth, so if I had kept my rhythm the game would have worked more in our favor.”
Of his hitting, he said, “My at-bats were all good, I’d say they were near perfect. I have nothing bad to say.”
Ohtani limped off the field in the fifth inning after base runner Jose Abreu crashed into him as the Japanese unsuccessfully attempted to field a return throw at home plate. An Angels spokesperson said Ohtani was not removed because of injury.
The White Sox tied it at 3-3 during a two-out rally in the fifth then again at 4-4 in the top of the ninth.
Jared Walsh hit a three-run walk-off homer to secure the Angels’ third win over Chicago in their four-game, season-opening series.
According to the Angels, the only other starting pitcher to bat for himself in an American League game since the designated hitter rule was implemented in 1973 is Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Andy Sonnanstine, who did it in 2009 as a result of a lineup card mistake.
Ohtani, winner of the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Award, did not pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and made only two starts in 2020 before going down with a flexor strain. He has played the majority of his career games in MLB as a designated hitter.
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