The Shohei Ohtani show continued to rage here on Friday night, as the two-way phenom launched his third home run in as many games, helping spark an improbable comeback that propelled the Angels to a wild 13-9 win over the A's in their series opener at Angel Stadium.
After the Angels fell into an early 6-0 hole, Ohtani crushed a 2-0 fastball from A's right-hander Daniel Gossett to straightaway center field to put his club on the board in the second inning. The ball flew off his bat at 112.4 mph and traveled an estimated 449 feet, according to Statcast™, splashing into one of the fountains nestled within the stadium's signature rock formation. The blast stands as the hardest-hit and longest home run for the Angels in 2018.
"I wanted to get on base and bring in a run to compete later in the game. As a result, it became a home run, so I'm glad."
Ohtani, who homered off the Indians' Josh Tomlin on Tuesday and reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber on Wednesday, is the first Angels rookie to homer in each of his first three home games.
"It's getting old. No, but it's really cool to see him swing the bat that well. I'm happy for him. I think we all are. He has big power, and he's showing it."
-- Andrelton Simmons
Ohtani's prowess as a two-way player earned him a reputation as the "Babe Ruth of Japan," and he's lived up to his moniker over his first week in the Majors. The 23-year-old left-handed slugger (and right-handed pitcher) is the first AL player to homer in three straight games in the same season that he started a game as a pitcher since Ruth in 1930. He now has more home runs than the Tigers, Royals and Marlins.
His historic exploits have captivated the baseball world, turning each of his at-bats into must-watch television. When Ohtani came up to bat in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and the Angels trailing, 8-6, the crowd of 36,023 got to its feet and started chanting, "Oh-tah-ni! Oh-tah-ni!"
A's manager Bob Melvin summoned reliever Liam Hendriks to face Ohtani, who worked a four-pitch walk to force in a run, bringing the Angels within one. Ohtani, who finished 1-for-4 with two RBIs, is now 7-for-18 (.389) with three homers and seven RBIs in four starts as the Angels' designated hitter. Since RBI became an official statistic in 1920, Ohtani is the first AL player to collect a home run and at least two RBIs in each of his first three home games.
Ironically, the only thing preventing Ohtani the hitter from staying in the Angels' lineup is Ohtani the pitcher. Ohtani will rest Saturday as he prepares for his second start on the mound, Sunday against the A's, the team he beat in his pitching debut last week at the Coliseum.
"There's no doubt that you have to have some separation and get him ready to pitch. We'll let him recover and get ready to go."
--- Manager Mike Scioscia