Shohei Ohtani got his first major league home run and his first celebratory ice bath. There could more on the way for the Japanese sensation.
“Shohei put on a display of the type of talent he has tonight,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “He showed the power. He showed the ability to just square up a baseball, and he had a great night for us.”
Ohtani capped a six-run first inning by lifting a ball out to center on a 2-2 pitch from Josh Tomlin. He got the silent treatment from teammates when he returned to the dugout, but not from the crowd. After players broke character and jumped around Ohtani to celebrate, Mike Trout pointed to the field and instructed Ohtani to take a curtain call.
It was a tradition Ohtani wasn’t familiar with. The postgame dousing, however, Ohtani had seen on television.
Kole Calhoun snuck up behind Ohtani after the game as he was about to give a television interview and dumped ice water all over the 23-year-old.
“It obviously felt really, really good,” Ohtani said through an interpreter, drying himself as he spoke to the crowd.
Ohtani is the first player to win as a starting pitcher, then start and homer as a non-pitcher in his next game in the same season since Babe Ruth in 1921, according to STATS LLC. He is also the first player with four hits, a home run and a win in his first six games since Boston’s Wes Ferrell in 1937, and the first rookie with at least three hits and a win in his first six games since Dutch Stryker of the 1924 Boston Braves.
Trout, Justin Upton and Luis Valbuena also homered for the Angels. Rene Rivera had four RBIs, including a two-run shot in the eighth.
Los Angeles’ Garrett Richards (1-0) gave up two runs and one hit while striking out nine in 5 2/3 innings.
Jose Ramirez hit a two-run homer in the first for the Indians, but Tomlin (0-1) gave up eight runs and eight hits in three innings.
“It was obviously a tough start and he was never able to settle in,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “They all swung the bat good tonight.”
Ohtani’s shot would have been a grand slam, except Calhoun had scored on a wild pitch earlier in the at-bat. He finished 3 for 4, including a hard-hit liner for a single in the eighth. Statcast measured his last hit at 112.8 mph, the hardest-hit ball by an Angels player this season.
“After getting my first hit out of the way, I felt more comfortable and relaxed,” Ohtani said. “And everyone around me was doing a good job too, making it tough for the pitcher. That was a factor.”
The homer was Ohtani’s second hit in the majors — his first was in his first big league at-bat, at Oakland last Thursday. He also struck out the first batter he faced in his first start as a pitcher Sunday.
Ohtani will pitch against Oakland on Sunday in his first start at home.
“It’s a lot of fun to see something like that from a guy that has a huge spotlight on him and obviously doesn’t let it bother him, comes out and plays extremely well the first week of the season,” Angels infielder Ian Kinsler said.
Angels: RHP Matt Shoemaker was placed on the 10-day disabled list with soreness in his right forearm. Parker Bridwell was recalled from Triple-A and will start Friday against the A’s. Shoemaker was limited to 14 starts last season and had surgery last August to address nerve pain in his right forearm.
The Angels ended a 12-game losing streak against the Indians, which was tied for the longest active mark in baseball.
Indians: RHP Corey Kluber (0-1) starts Wednesday in the finale of the three-game series. Kluber went eight innings at Seattle on Thursday, giving up two runs in a 2-1 loss.
Angels: LHP Tyler Skaggs (1-0) did not give up a run in 6 1/3 innings in a 2-1 win over the A’s on Friday. Skaggs is 4-1 in 11 career starts in March and April.
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