Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani made his season debut as a pitcher Sunday night in a 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox, pitching two-hit ball into the fifth inning in a no-decision and homering in his first at-bat.
It is the first time since he moved to the majors in the 2017 offseason that the 26-year-old Japanese both pitched and hit in a regular-season game, and Ohtani celebrated the occasion with a highlight homer from the No. 2 slot.
The last time Ohtani hit in the same game he pitched during the regular season was in October 2017, in his fifth and final season with the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan.
On Sunday at Angel Stadium, Ohtani retired three of the first four White Sox batters he faced in the top of the first inning, then homered off starter Dylan Cease to drive in the first of the Angels' two runs in the bottom half.
After he hit his second homer of the season and 49th with the Angels to beat Kenji Jojima and move into sole third in home run totals by a Japanese major leaguer, Ohtani, who hit his first homer of 2021 on Friday, lined out and grounded out to finish 1-for-3.
On the mound, he pitched four shutout innings and appeared well on his way to getting his first win since May 2018, but with two outs in the fifth he made an errant pickoff attempt, issued back-to-back walks and a wild pitch brought Leury Garcia home for the visitors' first run of the night.
Ohtani was charged with three runs, one earned, two hits, five walks and seven strikeouts over 4-2/3 frames. He threw 92 pitches.
"Overall, I threw some good pitches. I got two outs in the fifth, so if I had kept my rhythm the game would have worked more in our favor," Ohtani said of his pitching performance.
Of his hitting, he said, "My at-bats were all good, I'd say they were near perfect. I have nothing bad to say."
Ohtani limped off the field in the fifth inning after base runner Jose Abreu clattered into him as the Japanese unsuccessfully attempted to field a return throw at home plate, but an Angels spokesperson said he was not removed because of injury.
The White Sox tied it 3-3 during a two-out rally in the fifth then again at 4-4 in the top of the ninth, but Jared Walsh hit a three-run walkoff homer to claim the Angels' third win over Chicago in their four-game, season-opening series.
According to MLB.com, Ohtani was the first pitcher to bat second since Jack Dunleavy did so for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1903.
Ohtani, winner of the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Award, did not pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and made only two starts in 2020 before going down with a flexor strain. He has played the majority of his career games in MLB as a designated hitter.