April 5 (UPI) — Shohei Ohtani displayed his dynamic skill set when he hit the hardest home run and threw the fastest pitch for a starting pitcher so far this season in a Los Angeles Angels win over the Chicago White Sox.
Ohtani’s historic performance came in the first inning of the 7-4 victory Sunday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif.
“What he did was pretty special,” Angels manager Joe Maddon told reporters. “You’re going to see a lot more of that season-in-progress.
“It was fun to watch and had everybody entertained. It’s what he signed up to do and he had a chance to do it.”
The Angels designated hitter/pitcher began his day by facing White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson. He ended that five-pitch exchange by forcing a ground out. Ohtani then struck out Adam Eaton and walked Jose Abreu. He ended the half-inning by forcing a Yoan Moncada ground out.
Ohtani threw three pitches that traveled faster than 100 mph in the first frame, including a 100.6-mph fastball to Eaton. That offering was the fastest pitch thrown so far this season.
David Fletcher led off the bottom of the inning with a ground out. Ohtani then settled in against White Sox starter Dylan Cease. The right-handed pitcher tossed in a 97-mph fastball for his only offering of the exchange. Ohtani obliterated the pitch deep to right field.
The 451-foot blast had an exit velocity of 115 mph, the fastest speed for a home run measured so far this season by Statcast, a statistical service managed by MLB.
Ohtani is the first MLB player to ever hit a ball at least 110 mph and throw a pitch at least 100 mph in the same game since Statcast started tracking games in 2015.
“I’m glad I got this game under my belt,” Ohtani told reporters. “It will lead to more confidence. There’s a huge difference with the fans, it helps me concentrate at the plate and on the mound. I feel like I get that extra push and extra gear.”
Justin Upton brought in another run for the Angels with an RBI sacrifice fly in the first inning. The Angels went up 3-0 on an David Fletcher RBI single in the fourth frame. Chicago tied the score with three runs in the fifth inning.
Jared Walsh then homered for the Angels in the bottom of the fifth frame. The White Sox tied the score at 4-4 in the top of the ninth inning. Walsh then won the game with a walk-off, three-run homer in the bottom of the final frame.
Ohtani went 1 for 3 with an RBI and a run scored. He also allowed two hits and three runs and had seven strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings on the mound. He left the game due to an ankle injury in the fifth inning.
Walsh went 2 for 4 with four RBIs, two runs scored, a walk and a strikeout in the victory.
The Angels host the Houston Astros in the first game of a two-game series at 9:38 p.m. EDT Monday at Angel Stadium.
Scenes from MLB opening day at Yankee Stadium
The Toronto Blue Jays’ Jonathan Davis scores the game-winning run in the 10th inning against the Yankees in the Opening Day baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York City on Thursday. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI |