Trailblazer Ohtani in ASG as hitter, pitcher

Two-way sensation rockets 459-foot shot against Orioles

July 5th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- It only made sense that on the same day made history by becoming the first player selected as an All-Star as both a position player and a pitcher that the two-way sensation absolutely obliterated yet another home run.

After smacking two home runs on Tuesday night against the Yankees, and two more against the Orioles in Friday's series opener, he hit a solo home run that went a projected 459 feet in the third inning of Sunday’s 6-5 walk-off win over the Orioles at Angel Stadium.

"Every time he swings the bat, even when he misses, it looks like he could hit a home run," Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Ohtani's majestic blast. "It's really a pleasure to watch."

It was another impressive feat from Ohtani, who was elected as the starting designated hitter by the fans for the All-Star Game, while also being voted by the players as one of five starting pitchers to make the American League roster. He’s also set to participate in the Home Run Derby on July 12 and the Angels are open to him both hitting and pitching in the game on July 13.

“It’s my first time, so I just want to enjoy everything,” Ohtani told Japanese media postgame. “There’s also the Home Run Derby. So I’m looking forward to taking it all in and enjoying everything.”

It was the 31st homer of the year for Ohtani, who has already tied the record for homers in a season by a Japanese-born player, joining Hideki Matsui. Matsui hit 31 homers in 162 games in 2004, while Ohtani reached 31 in just his 78th game.

“I’m really excited to be at the same level with somebody I looked up to since I was young,” Ohtani said. “However, it’s still the first half, so, like I’ve said before, I want to continue to build up one hit at a time.”

The record-tying shot came on a 2-2 slider from Orioles right-hander Thomas Eshelman, who lamented he didn’t locate the pitch better.

"I didn't bury that slider that he hit out, but I got him the first time around," Eshelman said. "He's definitely a special player in this league right now, and he's doing things that have never been done before. So for me to face that type of player is fun, but at the same time though, I wish I got that pitch back and could get it in the dirt and for him to swing over the top of it."

Ohtani also became just the 10th left-handed hitter to reach at least 31 homers before the All-Star break, joining Babe Ruth (1921, '28, '30), Roger Maris ('61), Reggie Jackson ('69), Ken Griffey Jr. ('94, '98), Luis Gonzalez ('01), Barry Bonds ('01), David Ortiz ('06), Chris Davis ('13) and Christian Yelich ('19). It's tied for the third-most homers before the break over the last 20 seasons, as only Albert Pujols (32 in '09) and Davis (37 in '13) have hit more, according to ESPN Stats & Info. He’s also the only player in AL history with at least 31 homers and 12 stolen bases before the All-Star break.

Ohtani’s monster homer left his bat with a 112.5 mph exit velocity, as if that distance to straightaway center wasn't impressive enough. Ohtani now has four home runs measured at 450 feet or longer, tied with Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and St. Louis' Tyler O'Neill for most in the Majors this season.

Two batters later, Anthony Rendon followed with his own solo home run to give the Angels a four-run cushion. Rendon, however, left the game in the sixth with left hamstring tightness, though it isn’t believed to be a serious injury.

The Angels' lead was short-lived as Baltimore rallied for four runs in the sixth to tie the game. The Orioles then edged ahead on a go-ahead solo homer from All-Star Cedric Mullins off closer Raisel Iglesias in the top of the ninth.

The Angels mounted their own rally in the bottom of the inning, loading the bases with no outs before Juan Lagares delivered a walk-off two-run double.

"It's becoming a common theme," Maddon said of the late comeback. "I love it. There's no quit with this group. They're always alive in the dugout, always talking to each other. It's just a wonderful vibe. Even after the home run by Mullins, it was just another game where we had to the very end, kind of attitude. It's wonderful to be around."