Los Angeles Angels Player Shohei Ohtani Hits First Home Run

The home run swing

The home run swing

Making his home debut in Los Angeles on Tuesday, the 23-year-old cracked a three-run home run in his first at-bat in front of the home crowd. That included a fifth-inning, two-run blast against Indians ace Corey Kluber on Wednesday that tied the game.

Batting eighth, Ohtani homered off the two-time American League Cy Young victor, taking him to left-center with the count at 1-1 in the fifth to bring home Andrelton Simmons who had bunted to get to first.

The deadlock was broken in the 13th inning when Zack Cozart hit his first career walk-off homer to give Los Angeles its second straight victory at home, driving the solo shot to the left off Zach McAllister (0-1).

"I think it is unbelievable". Los Angeles' bullpen pitched 8⅓ innings of scoreless, two-hit ball.

While there was a ton of hype surrounding Ohtani throughout the winter, the buzz around the young player seemed to temper a bit after an unimpressive spring training.

In his first at-bat on Wednesday, Ohtani struck out. "A single would be a good (to get in a run), so I just tried to keep my swing compact".

The rookie sensation was big news in Japan, where political scandals and fears of USA -imposed trade tariffs have dominated headlines for weeks.

Ohtani won his first big-league start with six innings of 3-hit pitching in Oakland over the weekend, and will pitch against the Athletics Sunday in his home pitching debut.

Japanese media also got into the act. "Corey Kluber is a guy that does not give up a lot of home runs".

For those who argued hitting a home run off Tomlin isn't an impressive feat, there you go.

"Ohtani Stunned by the Silent Treatment", read a headline in the Nikkansports newspaper.

Prior to the bunt single and home run, Kluber had not surrendered a hit to the Angels.

Critics, including mlb.com's Ron Darling, said prior to Opening Day that Ohtani did not yet belong in the majors and suggested the Angels may have quietly promised him a big league roster spot in order to sign the slugging pitcher. "Starting off like this should make things easier for him".

"He's basically like a high school hitter because he's never seen a good curveball", one major league scout told Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan, who told Kyodo News he would not have published those words if that had not been the consensus of a number of scouts he'd spoken to.

While he looks ready to dominate on the mound, it remains to be seen just how long it will take Ohtani to get accustomed to hitting in Major League Baseball.

Those fears seem to have been put to rest.

Kluber credited Ohtani for capitalizing on a misplaced fastball: "I was trying to force him away, and I ended up in the high third [of the strike zone]", Kluber said.

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