Shohei Ohtani hit his 19th home run Friday, the most by any Japanese major league player in their rookie season, and lifted the Los Angles Angels toward a 5-2 win against the Chicago White Sox.
Ohtani, batting fifth as the Angels’ designated hitter, came to the plate for his second at-bat after Chicago lefty Carlos Rodon (6-5) loaded the bases and allowed the visitors to tie 1-1 on a sacrifice fly.
The 24-year-old Japanese rookie took two balls from Rodon before smashing a three-run go-ahead shot past the center field wall at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was his second homer off a lefty this season.
«I’m glad I connected at such a good spot,» Ohtani said. «My home runs lately are just barely getting out. Luckily a lot of my hits are riding the wind.»
He rewrote the record of former Seattle Mariners catcher Kenji Jojima, who hit 18 home runs in his rookie season in 2006.
Ohtani is now four shy of tying his single-season record in Japan. He hit 22 home runs in 2016, the same year he went 10-4 on the mound as a two-way player for the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Before the game, Ohtani revealed his intention to finish the season as a hitter and postpone a decision on whether to undergo Tommy John surgery following his diagnosis with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow on Wednesday.
«I’d like to keep batting while I have the chance since there are only a few games remaining this season, and take the recovery day by day,» Ohtani said.
«I have a few options so once I choose one of them I think I’ll feel like I’m making progress.»
Last Sunday, Ohtani made his first major league start since June 6, when he was sidelined from pitching duties with a right elbow injury. Following an MRI, the Angels recommended Tommy John surgery, a procedure that would likely keep him off the mound until the 2020 season.
At Safeco Field, Masahiro Tanaka (11-5) scattered three hits and fanned 10 over eight scoreless innings and picked up his 11th win as the New York Yankees blanked the Seattle Mariners 4-0.
Tanaka give up a single in the first but retired the side over the next four innings. In the sixth he gave up a leadoff double, fanned two, yielded a single, and fanned a third to strand the runners.
The Japanese right-hander tossed two more 1-2-3 innings before being replaced by David Robertson, who closed out a scoreless ninth. Tanaka did not issue a single walk to the 27 batters he faced, coaxing 10 groundouts and throwing 74 strikes over 102 pitches.
Gleyber Torres put the Yankees on the board with a two-run homer in the third, and Andrew McCutchen followed suit in the third.
All — Kyodo News+