Ohtani’s 2-way play, Walsh’s HRs lead Angels past ChiSox 7-4

Sports

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani walks off the field during the fifth inning of the team’s baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, April 4, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. Ohtani and White Sox’s Jose Abreu collided at the plate while Ohtani was covering after a passed ball. Abreu and Adam Eaton both scored. Ohtani left the game. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — In the first inning alone, Shohei Ohtani threw a ball nearly 101 mph and hit a homer that jumped off his bat at 115 mph.

By the time he left, the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way star had dazzled on the mound and at the plate in a historic two-way performance.

And after Sho-time ended, Jared Walsh put on his own impressive effort to secure another win for the Halos.

Ohtani both smashed a 451-foot homer and pitched two-hit ball into the fifth inning, and Walsh hit a walkoff homer to end the Angels’ 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday night.

“I’m glad I got one game like this under my belt, and it’s going to lead to a lot of confidence for me,” Ohtani said through his translator.

Ohtani reached another milestone in his unique career when he took the mound and occupied the No. 2 slot in the batting order for the Angels. He was just the third pitcher in 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available, and the first to bat second since Jack Dunleavy did it for the Cardinals in 1903.

Although he lost a three-run lead and narrowly avoided injury in a home plate collision during the fifth inning, Ohtani left both teams amazed by his abilities.

“He’s everything we thought he could be, right?” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s the complete baseball player. He just needed the opportunity to do it. … What he did tonight was pretty special, and you’re going to see a lot more of that.”

Chicago’s Leury García put it more succinctly: “Oh, he nasty.”

So was Walsh, who hit two homers — including a big three-run shot off Matt Foster to end the Angels’ third win over Chicago in their four-game, season-opening series.

In that wild first inning, Ohtani both threw the hardest pitch by any starting pitcher in baseball this season and produced the hardest hit by any batter this season. Ohtani’s first-pitch homer off Chicago’s Dylan Cease was the hardest-hit homer by the Angels since MLB’s Statcast database started tracking in 2015.

Even Ohtani’s 109.7-mph lineout to center in the second inning was hit harder than any other ball in the game except his own homer.

Ohtani didn’t allow a run through the first four innings, but his control problems abetted Chicago’s three-run rally in the fifth. Ohtani left after a passed ball and a throwing error by catcher Max Stassi led to a collision between Ohtani and AL MVP José Abreu.

Ohtani finished with seven strikeouts and five walks, showcasing his typical duo of otherworldly speed and shaky control.

David Fletcher and Justin Upton drove in early runs for the Angels. After Chicago tied it in the fifth by scoring three runs without an RBI, Walsh reclaimed the lead for Los Angeles in the fifth — but new Angels closer Raisel Iglesias (1-0) couldn’t quite come up with a five-out save.

Chicago tied it again in the ninth when Nick Madrigal scored from second on a throwing error by Iglesias, who tried to get him at third after fielding Adam Eaton’s one-out grounder.

The White Sox scored four runs despite going 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

“I just told them, this is one of the most impressive losses that I can remember being a part of,” Chicago manager Tony La Russa said. “You look at all the stuff that went on in that game, and the fact that they didn’t give up is a great sign of the toughness and the guts that this club has as we move forward.”

José Ruiz (0-1) gave up a leadoff single in the ninth to Dexter Fowler, who entered the game via a rare AL double switch.

TRAINER’S ROOM

White Sox: SS Tim Anderson grounded out leading off the first inning, and he didn’t take the field for the bottom half due to left hamstring tightness. La Russa said they don’t think the injury is serious.

Angels: Ohtani left the game with general soreness, but no injury, general manager Perry Minasian said. “I feel fine as of now,” Ohtani said. “It wasn’t as bad as it looked.”

SENSATION VS SENSATION

Ohtani even mastered Yermín Mercedes, the 28-year-old White Sox rookie who improbably got his first eight major league hits consecutively over the past two games. Ohtani struck out Mercedes in the second and fourth innings, dropping the designated hitter’s average all the way down to .727.

Mercedes beat out an infield single later for his ninth hit in three games.

UP NEXT

White Sox: Carlos Rodon takes the mound in Seattle on Monday when they open a three-game series with the Mariners.

Angels: José Quintana makes his Halos debut Monday when they open a two-game series with the Houston Astros.

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