ANAHEIM, Calif. – Shohei Ohtani both hit the hardest homer and threw the hardest pitch by a starter in the majors this season in an extraordinary two-way performance for the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night.
Ohtani pitched and hit in the same game for the first time since moving to the majors, and the Japanese star had memorable moments in both of his endeavors against the Chicago White Sox.
Ohtani hit 100.6 mph with a fastball in the first inning, and his 451-foot homer on the first pitch he saw as the Angels' No. 2 hitter moments later went 115 mph off the bat. Those are both tops this season among starting pitchers and hitters — and Ohtani had a 101.1-mph fastball later.
Ohtani went 1 for 3 at the plate with his massive homer and a hard-hit lineout off Chicago starter Dylan Cease, showing off the powerful swing that makes him the Angels' everyday designated hitter.
Ohtani also was excellent in the first four innings of his first mound start of the season, holding Chicago scoreless and allowing just one hit. But his frequent control problems intensified in the fifth, and the White Sox tied it 3-3 during a two-out rally featuring two of Ohtani's five walks and a wild pitch.
But Ohtani apparently escaped injury when he left the game after a collision at home plate with AL MVP José Abreu, who undercut him while sliding home to score the tying run. Angels GM Perry Minasian said Ohtani has only general soreness and wasn't removed from the game due to an injury.
Ohtani is 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.
“Don’t you love it?” Angels manager Joe Maddon asked before the game. “This was him deciding that he could do this. ... When he came over, this is what he wanted to do. This is why he signed up. Everybody clamored for him because of this particular reason, so I think it’s important that we give him this opportunity to do that and see how it plays out.”