Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani made his season debut as a pitcher Sunday in a 7-4 win 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 in 2017. According to the Angels, Ohtani is only the second starting pitcher to bat for himself in an American League game since the designated hitter rule was implemented in 1973.
In other MLB news, pitchers Kenta Maeda and Yu Darvish made no-decision starts on Thursday, marking only the second time two Japanese pitchers have started opening day games in MLB. And on Saturday, right-hander Kohei Arihara kicked off his big-league career with the Texas Rangers, exiting with his team holding a lead over the Kansas City Royals that soon vanished.
As for The Week in NPB, the Yokohama DeNA BayStars have had a nightmarish start to the year, writes Jason Coskrey. Former Yokohama pitcher Daisuke Miura finally won his first game as manager Sunday on the ninth attempt, making the BayStars the last NPB team to notch a victory in 2021.
The BayStars began the past week by blowing an eighth-inning lead in a loss to the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, with erstwhile fan favorite Yasuaki Yamasaki garnering the lion’s share of blame for the collapse. They lost to the Swallows again Wednesday, despite Yakult being without six starters from Tuesday after catcher Akihisa Nishida tested positive for the coronavirus. DeNA blew another lead Thursday in an 11-11 tie with Yakult.
In the Pacific League, the Chiba Lotte Marines batters pulled off a rare feat, putting up 16 runs in consecutive games in wins over the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. The Hanshin Tigers ended the first full week of the season in first place despite recording their first three losses of 2021, starting with a 1-0 defeat to the Hiroshima Carp.