Cincinnati, Ohio – Yoshitomo Tsutsugo’s hot hitting put the Pittsburgh Pirates in command early before the Cincinnati Reds came back to claim a 9-5 win in their series opener on Monday.
Tsutsugo ripped a solo home run in his first at-bat of the game at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, then followed with an RBI single to make it a 3-0 lead in the third inning.
The left-handed slugger belted the home run off a 94.3 mile (152 km) per hour fastball from Cincinnati starter Vladimir Gutierrez, launching it to the stands behind right.
The Pirates squandered the advantage by giving up four home runs, but Tsutsugo continued proving his worth to the National League club in a 2-for-4 outing with two RBIs and two runs.
The 29-year-old former Yokohama DeNA BayStars standout has resurrected his major league career with Pittsburgh, his third club since leaving Japan to join the Tampa Bay Rays on a two-year contract last year.
He has batted .306 with eight home runs and 21 RBIs in 31 games for the Pirates, who signed him as a free agent on Aug. 16 following his release from the Los Angeles Dodgers’ minor affiliate after just two months with the organization.
His defensive flexibility has also been an asset for Pittsburgh, which has deployed him in both corner outfield positions and at first base.
Elsewhere in the majors, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani went 0-for-4 in a 10-0 loss at home to the Houston Astros.
The two-way sensation fell just short of his 45th home run in his final at-bat, flying out to the warning track at Angel Stadium.
He remains third in the major league home run race behind the Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and the Kansas City Royals’ Salvador Perez, who share the lead with 46 apiece.
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