ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Shohei Ohtani smacked his first career leadoff homer in the Los Angeles Angels’ 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, briefly climbing back to the top of the major league home run leaderboard with the monster shot.
Yusei Kikuchi, meanwhile, earned his fifth win after giving the Seattle Mariners another quality start in a 9-3 decision over the Chicago White Sox.
Ohtani launched his 24th home run into the catwalk above the scoreboard behind right-center field at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, stunning onlookers, including Los Angeles manager Joe Maddon.
The homer, on a 1-1 changeup from right-hander Andrew Kittredge, left Ohtani’s bat at 116.1 miles (187 kilometers) per hour and traveled a projected 453 feet (138 meters), according to Statcast, but Maddon insisted the estimate was too low.
“There’s no way that’s 453. I’m sorry. I’ve been here many times, and I’ve never seen that in a game or in batting practice,” Maddon, a former Rays manager, told MLB.com.
The shot briefly tied Ohtani for the MLB lead in homers with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., but the Blue Jays slugger later in the day hit No. 25 against the Orioles. Fernando Tatis Jr. of the Padres hit three home runs Friday to give him 25 on the season.
Ohtani showed off his foot speed in his next at-bat, reaching on his fourth bunt single of the year in the third.
The 26-year-old two-way star finished 2-for-4 to lead the offense for the Angels, who lost their fourth straight after reliever Steve Cishek hit a batter with the bases loaded to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh.
At Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field, Kikuchi (5-3) struck out six over 5⅔ innings, while restricting the White Sox to a run on two hits and four walks.
The 30-year-old southpaw — who attended the same high school in Iwate Prefecture as Ohtani — received strong offensive support in a 14-hit outing from the Mariners batters.
Luis Torrens went 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs for the Mariners, who forced Cy Young Award candidate Carlos Rodon (6-3) off the mound after five innings.
At Fenway Park, Hirokazu Sawamura gave the Boston Red Sox 1⅓ solid innings of relief after coming in with two out in the fourth inning of a 5-3 victory over the New York Yankees. The right-hander struck out two while allowing no runs on no hits and a walk.
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