Tuesday night was another home run, another pitching win, another spot in the history books — just another night for Shohei Ohtani.
The two-way sensation from Japan withstood another injury scare and pitched six scoreless innings to go with his team-leading 25th home run, reaching yet another monumental milestone as the Los Angeles Angels beat the Oakland Athletics 5-1.
Ohtani joined Babe Ruth (1918) as the only players in major league history to have at least 10 home runs and 10 wins in the same season.
The Angels said that two players from the Negro Leagues also did it: Bullet Rogan of the 1922 Kansas City Monarchs and Ed Rile of the 1927 Detroit Stars.
“I feel like every time we’re out there he does something special,” Angels interim manager Phil Nevin said. “You try not to take for granted what we’re seeing every night, but it’s pretty awesome to be a part of. These things don’t go by us lightly.”
Ohtani singled and scored on Taylor Ward’s three-run homer in the fifth, then connected for a towering drive off Sam Selman leading off the seventh as a throng of red-clan fans sitting behind the Angels dugout roared.
That moved Ohtani past Ichiro Suzuki for the second-most home runs (118) by a Japanese-born player. Hideki Matsui had 175.
“Obviously we’re very different types of hitters, but if I get to pass Ichiro, I’m really honored,” Ohtani said through a translator.
On the mound, Ohtani (10-7) was mostly crisp. He had five strikeouts, allowed four hits and retired seven of his final eight batters.
“After that home run today, I turned to the umpire and third base coach and was just like: ‘I don’t know how he does it,’” A’s third baseman Vimael Machin said. “Just being an elite player overall who can throw over 100mph with nasty off speed and hit the ball the way he hits it, I can’t even describe that. I wish I could do that, too. It’s amazing what he does.”
In Phoenix, Arizona, Rodolfo Castro got the call-up and dropped a call in his return to the big leagues.
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ infielder on Tuesday night lost his cellphone during a slide into third base and the team lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4.
“I don’t think there’s any professional ballplayer that would ever go out there with any intentions of taking a cellphone,” Castro told Pittsburgh media members through an interpreter. “It’s horrible it happened to me. Obviously, it was very unintentional.”
Rookie Tommy Henry was sharp in his Chase Field debut, allowing a run on four hits in seven innings for his first big league win.
Castro made a different kind of noise after being called up from Triple-A Indianapolis — with his phone.
The second-year second baseman walked in the fourth inning and went to third on Oneil Cruz’s single. Castro slid headfirst into the bag to beat the throw and the impact sent his phone flying from his back pocket.
Third base umpire Adam Hamari immediately saw the phone and pointed to it on the ground. The 23-year-old Castro picked up the phone and handed it to Pirates third base coach Mike Rebelo, who had an exasperated look on his face before taking it.
Castro said he put his oven mitt-like sliding glove in his pocket and forgot about the phone.
“You stay around the game and you see things you haven’t seen before,” Pirates manager Derek Shelton said. “This was just a kid who made a mistake. It’s just one of those things we move forward from and tell him: ‘You can’t do that.’”
The MLB has cracked down on technology being used on the field since the Houston Astros used live TV feeds to steal opposing teams’ signs during their run to the 2017 World Series championship and part of the 2018 season.
Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended for the 2020 season. The Astros were fined US$5 million and forfeited their first and second-round picks in 2020 and last year.
Castro might want to keep his phone close by in case the MLB decides it wants to impose some penalty.
“My first day back, if I was to be the center of attention, I would want it to be helping the team win, but never in this form,” Castro said. “This is definitely something that was an accident, a mistake, something I’m going to learn from. But definitely something I didn’t mean to happen.”
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