Denver – Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday became the first player in the 88-year history of the All-Star Game to start as both a hitter and pitcher.
Ohtani, who was listed in the lineup as a designated hitter, batted leadoff for the American League and then took the mound as the starting pitcher in the game at Coors Field in Denver, adding yet another first in his four-year MLB career.
He grounded out in his first at-bat, then in the bottom half he set the National League down in order, retiring the three batters he faced — Fernando Tatis Jr., Max Muncy and Nolan Arenado — on a flyout and two groundouts. He grounded out again in his final plate visit.
“I’m quite tired but I enjoyed the atmosphere,” said Ohtani, who hit 100 mph (161 kph) with his fastball in a 14-pitch outing.
Ohtani was aggressive on both sides of the ball, and the fans greeted him with standing ovations. He swung at all three pitches he saw in two at-bats, the first two pitches from NL starter and Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
“I knew what to expect against him but I couldn’t get a hit. (As a pitcher) I was aiming to get strikeouts. But even if I throw good pitches chances are high NL hitters will make contact, they’re that good,” he said.
Ohtani got the win as the AL won its eighth straight All-Star Game, 5-2. The Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is second to Ohtani in the league’s home run race, was named All-Star Game MVP.
MLB changed the All-Star Game rules to help showcase Ohtani as baseball’s first two-way All-Star.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Ohtani also took part in the Home Run Derby as the first Japanese to compete in the event held the night before Major League Baseball’s annual Midsummer Classic. He hit 28 homers and exited in the first round.
It has been a busy two days for the 27-year-old from Japan.
On Tuesday, he walked the “purple carpet” into the stadium in a Hugo Boss outfit.
The Angels designated hitter and pitcher, who leads the majors with 33 home runs this season and is 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts, is one of 40 players who made their first All-Star Game appearance.
Ohtani is the first Japanese-born player to start the All-Star Game since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010. He is also the second Japanese pitcher to start an All-Star Game after Hideo Nomo in 1995.
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