April 14, 2021

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Shohei Ohtani hits home run in historic start, but leaves game vs. White Sox after painful fifth inning

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Shohei Ohtani’s historic start Sunday night started with a bang, but ended in pain. 

Ohtani’s night was a microcosm of the Angels’ adventurous 7-4 win, which ended on a three-run walk-off home run by Jared Walsh, who two seasons ago appeared in five games as a pitcher for the Angels.

After pitching a shutout inning to open the game, Ohtani – who was batting second in the lineup – clobbered a home run on the first pitch he saw from White Sox starter Dylan Cease. It was Ohtani’s second home run of the young season, after hitting his first of 2021 on Friday night.

However, in the fifth inning, Ohtani’s brilliant night came to a devastating halt. Ohtani’s evening ended when Jose Abreu slid into him while scoring the tying run, with Ohtani shaken up on the play.

Ohtani had allowed a hit and two walks, but the inning went from bad to worse when Yoan Moncada swung at strike three with two outs, but the pitch went by Angels catcher Max Stassi. Stassi’s throw to get Moncada out at first base was wild and that allowed two runs to score, tying the game and preventing Ohtani from qualifying for a win. Steve Cishek came in to finish the inning for the Angels. 

Ohtani was experiencing general soreness from the play at the plate and wasn’t removed from the game for injury purposes, ESPN reported. He returned to the field to celebrate Walsh’s walk-off homer with teammates and will be further evaluated Monday.

Ohtani became just the third pitcher over the last 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available. He’s also the first pitcher to bat second for a team since Jack Dunleavy did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903.

Ohtani’s home run traveled 450 feet, according to the ESPN broadcast. He finished the game going 1-for-3.

No Angels pitcher had ever hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available since the rule was implemented in the American League in 1973.

An AL team hadn’t declined to use the DH in a game in which it was available since May 17, 2009, when current Angels manager Joe Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays did it accidentally. Maddon submitted a lineup card with an error, listing two third basemen – which meant Andy Sonnanstine had to hit for himself while Evan Longoria wasn’t allowed to play.

Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu checks on Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani after a collision between the two at home plate.

The prior time an AL team declined the designated hitter was Sept. 23, 1976, when Ken Brett of the Chicago White Sox batted eighth. The only other time it happened since 1976 was on June 30, 2016, when the San Francisco Giants’ Madison Bumgarner batted for himself against the Oakland A’s.

Contributing: The Associated Press.

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