SEATTLE -- There’s seemingly no limit to the incredible things Shohei Ohtani can do on a baseball field, and he showed off his tremendous power yet again with a solo homer that reached the top deck in right field at T-Mobile Park on Friday.
Ohtani absolutely crushed a 1-2 sinker from lefty Marco Gonzales in the third inning for his Major League-leading 33rd blast of the year, as it went a projected 463 feet with an exit velocity of 116.5 mph, making it the hardest-hit homer at the ballpark by any player since Statcast was introduced in 2015. It padded an early Angels lead, but the Mariners rallied for a 7-3 win in the series opener.
Angels manager Joe Maddon believed the ball traveled farther than projected, saying it reminded him of Ohtani’s blast at Tropicana Field on June 25 that hit off the catwalk in deep right field. Ohtani is the only player in the Majors this season with at least five homers that were projected to travel at least 450 feet, per Statcast.
"That ball was far -- I know it said 463 -- but that seems like more where it hit," Maddon said. "I've seen other balls that have been rated farther than that, but no way. That was like the one he hit at the Trop. It looked like that. It was incredible off the bat, and he did it again."
Ohtani, who is set to participate in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby at Colorado’s Coors Field on Monday, hammered the ball to an area that only six have ever reached at the ballpark, which has been around since 1999. His teammates in the dugout reacted in disbelief, including shortstop José Iglesias hugging Ohtani's interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, and Justin Upton incredulously putting his hands over his head. The only other players to previously reach the third deck are Joey Gallo (2020), Daniel Vogelbach (2019), Nomar Mazara (2019), Carlos Delgado (2001) and Mo Vaughn (1999).
Ohtani’s blast reached the fifth row of seats before it fell down to the lower concourse. It traveled farther than any homer hit at the ballpark by a left-handed batter, dating back to 2015. The overall record is 470 feet by Mike Zunino.
"That's a long one,” said Mariners designated hitter Mitch Haniger, who hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the eighth. “He's a special player, man. I really hope we keep his bat quiet the next couple games heading into the break. But you have to give credit where credit's due, and that guy's a phenomenal player on the mound, in the box. It's both, and it's really impressive watching him play."
Ohtani’s 33 blasts are tied for the most by a foreign-born player before the All-Star break, matching Sammy Sosa, who had 33 before the break in 1998. The all-time record for homers before the All-Star break is Barry Bonds with 39 in 2001.
According to Stats By Stats, Ohtani’s 16 home runs in his last 21 games are the most in history by any American League player over a 21-game span during a single season. He joins National Leaguers Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez, Mark McGwire, Sosa, Kyle Schwarber and Bonds in achieving the feat.
"I know we talk about Shohei all the time, but we don't talk about him enough," said right-hander Alex Cobb, who gave up two unearned runs over 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision. "He's incredible. I was on the bench and my jaw dropped. I put a towel over my face because I couldn't believe where it ended up."
Ohtani is the first player to ever be selected to the All-Star Game as both a pitcher and a position player, and he is set to pitch and hit in the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday. Ohtani is not only on pace for more than 60 homers, he’s also 4-1 with a 3.49 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 67 innings over 13 starts as a pitcher.
But his homer came in a loss, as the Angels couldn’t hold onto an early three-run lead and left-hander José Quintana served up the slam to Haniger in the eighth. Maddon pointed to an error by third baseman Luis Rengifo that led to two unearned runs scoring in the fourth as the turning point.
"It was a tough play, but Cobb could've gone deeper into the game,” Maddon said. “Those are things we can't do. We have such a small margin of error. And that permitted the comeback. We had to extend our bullpen earlier. But we also had a chance to score more than three runs. We had a nice thing going, but we gave them the momentum."