Shohei Ohtani homers, pitches into 5th inning for Angels

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ANAHEIM, Calif. – Shohei Ohtani both hit the hardest homer and threw the hardest pitch by a starter in the majors this season in an extraordinary two-way performance for the Los Angeles Angels on Sunday night.

Ohtani pitched and hit in the same game for the first time since moving to the majors, and the Japanese star had memorable moments in both of his endeavors against the Chicago White Sox.

Ohtani hit 100.6 mph with a fastball in the first inning, and his 451-foot homer on the first pitch he saw as the Angels’ No. 2 hitter moments later went 115 mph off the bat. Those are both tops this season among starting pitchers and hitters – and Ohtani had a 101.1-mph fastball later.

Ohtani went 1 for 3 at the plate with his massive homer and a hard-hit lineout off Chicago starter Dylan Cease, showing off the powerful swing that makes him the Angels’ everyday designated hitter.

Ohtani also was excellent in the first four innings of his first mound start of the season, holding Chicago scoreless and allowing just one hit. But his frequent control problems intensified in the fifth, and the White Sox tied it 3-3 during a two-out rally featuring two of Ohtani’s five walks and a wild pitch.

But Ohtani apparently escaped injury when he left the game after a collision at home plate with AL MVP Jose Abreu, who undercut him while sliding home to score the tying run. Angels GM Perry Minasian said Ohtani has only general soreness and wasn’t removed from the game due to an injury.

Ohtani is just the third pitcher over the last 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available. He’s also the first pitcher to bat second for a team since Jack Dunleavy did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903.

“Don’t you love it?” Angels manager Joe Maddon asked before the game. “This was him deciding that he could do this. … When he came over, this is what he wanted to do. This is why he signed up. Everybody clamored for him because of this particular reason, so I think it’s important that we give him this opportunity to do that and see how it plays out.”

No Angels pitcher had ever hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available since the rule was implemented in the AL in 1973.

Despite his control woes, Ohtani nearly escaped the fifth inning when he struck out Yoan Moncada with the bases loaded, but catcher Max Stassi let the pitch get past him for a passed ball and also made a throwing error trying to get Moncada at first.

Abreu then collided with Ohtani while the pitcher covered home plate, and Ohtani was down on the dirt for a long moment before walking gingerly to the dugout.

Ohtani yielded two hits with seven strikeouts in his longest start since 2018. Just one of Chicago’s three runs was earned.

Ohtani has been solid as the Angels’ designated hitter for most of the past two seasons, but the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year is attempting a full-time return to the starting rotation. Ohtani made just two starts over the past two years after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

The Angels previously have held Ohtani out of games on the day before and the day after he pitches, but Ohtani also played against Chicago on Saturday night, going 1 for 4 as the designated hitter. The Angels are trying new ways to focus Ohtani’s mental approach in his difficult job, and Maddon thinks being in the batting lineup might help his pitcher.

“Theoretically, I thought that would be a residue positive component of him being able to do both,” Maddon said. “Just go pitch, then go hit, go pitch, go hit, just play baseball. … I do believe conversationally, it does help him doing both.”

An AL team hadn’t declined to use the DH in a game in which it was available since May 17, 2009, when Maddon’s Tampa Bay Rays did it accidentally. Maddon submitted a lineup card with an error, listing two third basemen – which meant Andy Sonnanstine had to hit for himself while Evan Longoria wasn’t allowed to play.

The prior time an AL team declined the designated hitter was Sept. 23, 1976, when Ken Brett of the Chicago White Sox batted eighth. The only other time it happened since 1976 was on June 30, 2016, when San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner batted for himself against Oakland in an interleague game.

Ohtani is the first player to make starts as both a pitcher and a non-pitcher in three different seasons since Bobby Reis did it for the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Boston Bees in the mid-1930s.

Yankees’ Judge heads on road still at 61 homers; 4 games left

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NEW YORK – Aaron Judge won’t break the American League home run record at Yankee Stadium, remaining at 61 as New York headed on the road for its final four regular-season games after a 3-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Judge struck out three times and walked once, disappointing a crowd of 44,332 that watched the Yankees regular-season home finale in rain for much of a chilly, blustery afternoon. New York finishes the regular season with four games at Texas, starting Monday night.

Judge took a called third strike from rookie Kyle Bradish leading off the first inning, then couldn’t check his swing and stranded the bases loaded when he struck out on a curveball in the second. He walked in the fifth and fanned against Bryan Baker in the seventh, dropping to 1 for 7 with six strikeouts, five walks and a hit batter since hitting No. 61 at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Trying to become the first Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012, Judge tops the AL with 130 RBIs. His batting average fell to .311, four points behind league leader Luis Arraez of Minnesota.

Baltimore (82-77) guaranteed its first winning season since 2016. The Orioles went 52-110 last year and became the first team since at least 1900 to have a winning record one season after losing 110 or more.

AL East champion New York (97-61) took another hit to an injury-ravaged bullpen when Ron Marinaccio left while pitching to Jorge Mateo in the eighth. The Yankees will be without Clay Holmes until the playoffs because of rotator cuff inflammation, and Aroldis Chapman (3-4) was once again wild, walking three, including rookie Gunnar Henderson with the bases loaded, as Baltimore surged ahead in the seventh.

Chi Chi Gonzalez, a 30-year-old right-hander, made his Yankees debut after pitching for Minnesota and Milwaukee in the majors earlier this season. He threw to Jose Trevino, his batterymate at Oral Roberts in 2012 and ’13.

Gonzalez allowed one run, four hits and three walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Bradish gave up one run – unearned – three hits and five walks in five-plus innings.

Logan Gillaspie (1-0) pitched a scoreless sixth in his first big league decision, Baker struck out five while getting six straight outs, and Dillon Tate got three outs for his fifth save.

Ryan Mountcastle had an RBI double in the first. Aaron Hicks scored from second base in the fifth when Bradish bounced a wild pitch and catcher Adley Rutschman threw the ball into center for an error.

Cedric Mullins reached on an infield hit starting the seventh against Chapman, has walked 28 in 35 1/3 innings. After Chapman walked three of four batters, Austin Hays followed with a sacrifice fly off Marinaccio.

WEB GEMS

Yankees 3B Josh Donaldson made a backhand grab on Jorge Mateo’s bases-loaded grounder in the sixth and from foul territory made a strong throw for the inning-ending out. … Hicks saved two runs with a sprinting catch on Terrin Vavra‘s slicing liner near the left-field line in the seventh.

FOR THE BOOKS

New York went 57-24 at home, matching most wins at new Yankee Stadium. Baltimore was 38-43 on the road, up from 20-61.

IN THE SEATS

The Yankees drew 3,136,207 for 78 home dates, down from 3,304,404 in 2019, the last season before two years of COVID restrictions. They had 16 sellouts, up from 12 in 2019.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: RHP Felix Bautista may not pitch for the rest of the season because of the sore left knee he injured Friday.

Yankees: Matt Carpenter (broken left foot on Aug 8) will not work out initially in the outfield at the Somerset, New Jersey, training camp this week. He was moved to the 60-day IL on Sunday, ruling him out of the Texas series. … RHP Miguel Castro (strained shoulder) could be activated Monday. … LHP Wandy Peralta, sidelined since Sept. 18 with back tightness, threw a bullpen session and will face hitters at Somerset on Tuesday or Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Dean Kremer (6-8, 3.17) starts Monday’s opener of a season-ending series against visiting Toronto and Jose Berrios (11-7, 5.37)

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (6-3, 3.41) starts Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Texas and LHP Martin Perez (12-7, 2.93). After Wednesday, the Yankees have five off days before their Division Series opener at home on Oct. 11.