Ohtani earns historic win with perfect 1st

July 14th, 2021

A night after setting a Home Run Derby record by launching six homers at least 500 feet, two-way phenom showed off his power arm in the All-Star Game on Tuesday, throwing a 1-2-3 first inning and watching his fastball top out at 100.2 mph. He was rewarded with the win in the American League’s 5-2 victory at Coors Field, becoming the first player to ever start a game on the mound, bat leadoff and earn the win in the same game in NL or AL history, including the regular season, postseason and All-Star Game, per Stats by STATS.

Ohtani began the game by grounding out sharply to second base on an 0-1 cutter from veteran right-hander Max Scherzer. And when it came time for him to take the mound in the bottom half of the inning, he didn’t disappoint.

Ohtani, who looked noticeably tired after losing in an epic first-round battle with Juan Soto in the T-Mobile Home Run Derby on Monday, looked fresh on the mound in the sixth start by an Angels pitcher in a Midsummer Classic. He became just the second All-Star Game starter to reach 100 mph since Statcast was introduced in 2015, joining Red Sox lefty Chris Sale in 2018.

"It was by design," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I was only going one inning, so I didn't have to think about going further into the game. So, I just let it rip."

Ohtani's first-pitch fastball to fellow superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. was 96.1 mph and was fouled off, but Ohtani's velocity only improved from there. He got Tatis to fly out to left on a 1-2 slider.

Ohtani retired Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy on a 1-1 fastball that registered at 96.6 mph, as Muncy grounded out to second. Ohtani then let it go against Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, as his first pitch in the dirt was 99.5 mph, and he later threw back-to-back fastballs at 100.2 mph and 99.7 mph before inducing a groundout to short with a splitter.

“It was definitely more fun than nervous,” Ohtani said of his emotions. “I definitely want to be back here at the All-Star Game. It was all equally fun. The experience the last three days was definitely great. I think so far this experience is the most memorable. Obviously, I haven’t played in the postseason or the World Series yet and that’ll probably surpass this, but as of right now, this has been the most memorable.”

Even though Ohtani was replaced on the mound by White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn in the second, Major League Baseball changed the rules to allow Ohtani to bat in the third. Ohtani grounded out to first on a first-pitch cutter from Brewers right-hander Corbin Burnes. He thanked Rays manager Kevin Cash for asking MLB to allow for the rule change to get him the second at-bat.

“I heard that Kevin Cash asked the Commissioner to do it,” Ohtani said. “So I just have to thank him for making it happen.”

But even though Ohtani went hitless at the plate, his talent has wowed others at the All-Star Game, including Tatis.

"It has to amaze everybody," Tatis said while mic’d up on the FOX broadcast. "If people ever wondered and wanted to see the legend of Babe Ruth, this guy is going the same way and on the same path. Hopefully, he can be healthy and he can keep it going. It's great for the game."

Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto, who watched from the NL dugout when Ohtani pitched in the first, offered similar praise.

"He's an unbelievable ballplayer," Realmuto said. "The way he can succeed at both sides of the ball, it's never been done before. It's really fun for us to watch because I know how hard it is to do one side of the ball, and I get to work closely with the pitchers and see how much work they put into that side of it. The fact he has time to do both just blows my mind."