BALTIMORE — Everywhere he goes, Shohei Ohtani puts on a show fans have never seen before. He did it again for the Camden Yards crowd Monday night in the Angels’ 9-5 win, launching a homer into a part of the park in center field that Orioles broadcasters rarely reach.
It was part of a big night 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 be a player’s first hit. The game as his team’s opener. It was the second time this season that Ohtani nearly pulled off the incredible feat, as he finished one cycle shy of a homer on April 27.
Odani made more history by becoming the first starter to reach base safely five times since the Yankees’ Mel Stottlemire hit five in a September 1964 victory over the Washington Senators.
Ohtani (5-1) then tried to lower the record, 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 will come because the sample size is so small,” he said through a translator. “So I didn’t look too deep into it. But today I gave up those runs and had a bad start to the game. So that was the thinking about today’s game.
Ohtani’s majestic fourth-inning blast soared a Statcast-projected 456 feet and hit with an exit velocity of 114.6 mph, still eye-poppingly advanced metrics from a slugger.
It was tied for the longest homer of the season at Camden Yards, where 20,148 — the largest weeknight crowd in Baltimore this year — came in part to see the first true two-way star since Babe Ruth. Born far away.
“He’s one of the best players we’ve ever seen,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s a special talent, and I don’t think we’re going to see anyone as talented as him on the mound and what he can do at the plate.”
Despite some early pitching hiccups, Ohtani showed himself a cushion with a three-run shot in the fourth inning for the Angels’ five runs. It was his sixth homer while pitching in his MLB career and his first this year.
“I think there was a little anger behind that swing, yes,” Angels manager Bill Nevin said. “It was an impressive night. A truly impressive night.”
Although Ohtani allowed three homers for the third time in his career — the second in Baltimore — he settled down considerably after his mammoth blast put the Angels ahead for good.
Ohtani retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, and despite continuing an inconsistent pitching stretch in which he posted a 6.12 ERA over his last four starts, he was able to get away with a four-run cushion.
Perhaps his best inning came immediately following his round-tripper, when he needed just eight pitches to retire the Orioles in the bottom of the fourth.
“He doesn’t have to sprint and run around the bases a little bit,” Nevin said. “Because sometimes he gets tired of being out there [on the basepaths] for a little while. But an impressive night. I know he gave up five runs, but like I said, fewer hits mean less damage. [there were] Basically not a lot of guys.”
The Angels had 17 hits on the night, including several strong individual performances. The first nine came against Orioles righty Grayson Rodriguez (2-1), whom the visitors tagged for eight runs in 3 1/3 innings.