A national TV audience, a beautiful evening in Anaheim and opening weekend for Major League Baseball provided the perfect setting.
It was for only a short time, but this star burned brightly Sunday night.
The Los Angeles Angels’ two-way superstar-in-the-making Shohei Ohtani was LA’s starting pitcher as well as its No. 2 hitter but a minor injury cost him a longer stay in the spotlight.
But that spotlight, huh? In the first inning alone, he set the mark for fastest pitch from an MLB starter this season and hit a 451-foot home run recorded as the hardest-hit homer this season.
Ohtani had to leave the Angels’ 7-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox when he attempted to catch a throw to try to stop Chicago’s Jose Abreu from scoring a run. Ohtani leaped but as he came down, he took a shot to the left ankle during Abreu’s slide in the fifth inning.
With the bases loaded, Ohtani had struck out Yoan Moncada, but the ball eluded catcher Max Stassi.
Ultimately, Ohtani had to cover home, where he met up with Abreu.
Ohtani had some trouble putting weight on the ankle as he left the field.
An Angels spokesperson said the injury was not serious and, during the postgame news conference, Ohtani said his leg is “fine as of now” and that the collision “wasn’t as bad as it looked.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon said Ohtani could be available to pinch hit Monday against the Houston Astros.
Sunday was the first time he’d pitched and hit in the same MLB game.
So, sports fans, he threw a 100.6 mph fastball and registered an exit velocity of 115.2 mph on a home run. In the first inning.
The 26-year-old seems to have a bright future.