BALTIMORE -- Pretty much everywhere he goes, Shohei Ohtani gives fans a show they've never seen before. He did it again for the Camden Yards crowd on Monday night in the Angels' 9-5 win, launching a homer to a part of the park in center field that the Orioles' broadcasters made sure to note very rarely gets reached.
It was part of a huge night at the plate for the superstar, as Ohtani went 4-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs, finishing a double shy of the cycle, which would have been the first hit by a player who began the game as his team’s starting pitcher. This was the second time this season Ohtani nearly pulled off this incredible feat, as he finished a homer shy of a cycle back on April 27.
Ohtani still made history, becoming the first starting pitcher to reach base safely five times since the Yankees’ Mel Stottlemyre had five hits in a win over the Washington Senators in September 1964.
Ohtani (5-1) tried to downplay the feat afterward, pointing to an imperfect effort on the mound, where he allowed three homers and five runs on four hits and two walks in seven innings.
“I’m sure all those records come because the sample size is so small,” he said through an interpreter. “So I don’t really look too deeply into it. But today I had a bad beginning of the game, giving up those runs. So that was the thought about the game today.”
Ohtani's majestic fourth-inning blast soared a Statcast-projected 456 feet and was hit at an exit velocity of 114.6 mph, just more eye-popping advanced metrics from the slugger.
It was tied for the longest homer of the season at Camden Yards, where a crowd of 20,148 -- the largest on a Baltimore weeknight this year -- came in part to see the first true two-way star since a guy named Babe Ruth, who was born only blocks away.
“He’s one of the greatest players we’ve seen,” said Orioles manager Brandon Hyde. “He’s a special talent, and I don’t think that we’re going to probably see anybody that talented that can do what he can do on the mound and at the plate."
Despite some early pitching hiccups, Ohtani presented himself with a cushion with the three-run shot in the Angels’ five-run fourth inning. It was the sixth homer he's hit while pitching in his MLB career and the first time he's done it this year.
“I think there was a little anger behind that swing, yeah,” said Angels manager Phil Nevin. “It was just an impressive night. Really impressive night.”
And although Ohtani allowed three homers for only the third time in his career -- and the second time in Baltimore -- he settled considerably after his mammoth blast put the Angels in the lead for good.
Ohtani retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, and he was able to exit with a four-run cushion, despite continuing an uneven pitching stretch where he’s posted a 6.12 ERA over his past four starts.
His best inning might have come immediately following his round-tripper, when he required only eight pitches to retire the Orioles in order in the bottom of the fourth.
“It helps when he doesn’t have to sprint and run around the bases a little bit,” Nevin said. “Because sometimes he does get tired because he’s out there [on the basepaths] for a while. But an impressive night. I know he gave up the five runs, but like I said, the damage was minimal because the hits were down and [there were] not a lot of guys on base.”
The Angels pounded out 17 hits on a night that included several other strong individual performances. The first nine came against Orioles righty Grayson Rodriguez (2-1), whom the visitors tagged for eight runs in only 3 1/3 innings.
Catcher Chad Wallach homered and had three hits on the day he was activated from the seven-day injured list. And after infielder Anthony Rendon was sent to the 10-day injured list with a groin strain, Gio Urshela -- a player who will be asked to carry a heavier load in Rendon’s absence -- went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.