SportsPulse: USA TODAY Sports’ Bob Nightengale, Steve Gardner and Jorge Ortiz give their predictions for the new season.
USA TODAY Sports
Shohei Ohtani wasted little time giving the baseball world the first glimpse of what made him such a coveted player this past offseason.
Just two days after picking up his first major-league win on the mound at Oakland, Ohtani blasted a three-run home run on a 2-2 pitch by Cleveland Indians starter Josh Tomlin in his first plate appearance at Angel Stadium.
Ohtani actually came to the plate with bases loaded, but Tomlin threw a wild pitch to score a run one pitch before Ohtani’s blast.
When Ohtani returned to the dugout he jokingly received the silent treatment from his Angels teammates before they mobbed him in celebration. Ohtani then addressed the home crowd’s standing ovation with a wave from the top step.
Ohtani added a line-drive single off Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis’ glove in his second at-bat in the third inning before adding another single in the eighth inning.
“After getting my first hit out of the way, I felt more comfortable and relaxed,” Ohtani said through and interpreter. “And everyone around me was doing a good job too, making it tough for the pitcher. That was a factor.”
The Angels beat the Indians 13-2, with Ohtani finishing 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs.
“Shohei put on a display of the type of talent he has tonight,” Angels 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 beat the Athletics on Sunday, working six innings and allowing three earned runs on three hits and one walk to go with six strikeouts. His biggest mistake came on a three-run homer by Matt Davidson in the second inning.
“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.
Contributing: Associated Press