All around him, the fans roared. But in the dugout, he found silence.
Tradition cedes to no one, not even a 23-year-old rookie sensation. And so, Shohei Ohtani was received with indifference from his Angels teammates after crushing his first career home run in his first at-bat at Angel Stadium during a 13-2 win over the Indians on Tuesday night.
"I didn't really know about this whole tradition, but I kind of figured it out once I came back to the dugout. Everyone was giving me the silent treatment."
Ignored by his teammates, Ohtani congratulated himself by high-fiving a line of invisible people. After he went over to hug Ian Kinsler, the ruse finally broke. Ohtani was soon engulfed in a collective embrace from the Angels, who advised the prodigious slugger to take a curtain call. He obliged, climbing the dugout steps and raising his helmet to 35,007 frenzied fans.
Two days after recording his first MLB win as a pitcher, Ohtani went 3-for-4 with three RBIs in his second start as the Angels' designated hitter. He is the first player to earn a win in one game, then homer in a start as a non-pitcher in his next game since Babe Ruth in 1921.
"You can see it. The talent is unbelievable."
- Mike Trout
Ohtani's first at-bat came with the bases loaded and the game tied at 2 in the first inning, though Kole Calhoun scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch from Indians starter Josh Tomlin, leaving runners on second and third with two outs.
With the count at 2-2, Tomlin threw a curveball to Ohtani, who had swung through the same pitch earlier in the at-bat, but did not miss the next time around. The ball flew off Ohtani's bat at 105 mph and traveled 397 feet to right-center field, per Statcast , for a three-run homer that capped a six-run inning for the Angels.
"I swung and missed at his first curveball that he threw me, then he bounced one on the wild pitch and we scored a run. That kind of made me feel more comfortable since we scored. Then, he left a curveball pretty up in the zone, so I was able to swing at it."
Ohtani's home-run ball was caught by Indians fan Chris Incorvaia, who immediately flipped it into the glove of 8-year-old Matthew Gutierrez.
"I saw him instantly in his Angels gear, and I saw him with the glove out -- he was trying to get the same ball I was -- and he's going to appreciate this ball a hell of a lot more than I am," Incorvaia said.
Gutierrez and his father, Rene, later delivered the ball to Ohtani, along with Incorvaia, and received signed memorabilia from the two-way phenom.
Ohtani also collected a pair of singles, including one in the eighth inning on a 112.8-mph line drive, which is the Angels' hardest-hit ball of the season, according to Statcast™. Though Ohtani was playing as a DH, it also was the hardest-hit ball by someone regarded as a pitcher that Statcast™ has ever tracked, topping a 112.5-mph homer by Madison Bumgarner on April 2, 2017. Ohtani also had three batted balls tracked at more than 100 mph. No pitcher has ever had more than two of those in a game.
It was his first multi-hit game, and he is now 4-for-9 through his first two games as a batter. Ohtani is expected to be in the lineup on Wednesday afternoon to face Indians ace Corey Kluber.
"I think that Shohei put on a display of the type of talent he has tonight and showed the power, showed the ability to square up the baseball. He had a great night for us."
- Mike Scioscia
Ohtani's teammates were also happy to see him deliver in his first week in the Majors, especially after his performance came under heavy scrutiny during Spring Training.
"For us as a team, it's great to see him have early success because [there were] a lot of unwanted, unnecessary negative comments about his game when he really didn't have a chance to prove himself. It's a lot of fun to see something like that from a guy that has a huge spotlight on him and obviously doesn't let it bother him."