Japanese dynamo Shohei Ohtani homered in his second straight game on Wednesday, delivering a two-run shot in the fifth inning as the Anaheim Angels beat the Cleveland Indians 3-2 in 13 innings.
The Angeles two-way star belted a shot off American League Cy Young winner Corey Kluber to go along with his three-run homer in his first at-bat at home for Anaheim on Tuesday night.
“Shohei got hold of it,” said manager Mike Scioscia of the 23-year-old right hander who is batting .429. “That’s a big hit in the game.
“You can see the bat speed and you can see the power. As he goes on, there is a lot more he has to absorb. He has a tremendous upside and has swung the ball very well the last two nights.”
Ohtani, who is scheduled to pitch for the Angels on Sunday, has six hits in 14 at-bats in three games as the club’s designated hitter.
Ohtani is the first player since Babe Ruth for the Boston Red Sox in 1919 to start on opening day in a non-pitching role, then also start on the mound in his first 10 games.
The rookie sensation won his first big league pitching start in Oakland on the weekend. Besides the homer, he had a single on Wednesday to lead off the 10th inning as the Angels won three innings later when Zack Cozart hammered a walk-off homer.
Kluber struck out Ohtani looking in the third inning.
‘Take it day by day’
Ohtani also made his Tuesday home debut a memorable one, collecting three hits, including the three-run homer that cleared the wall in right-centre field and gave the Angels a 6-2 lead in the first inning.
Ohtani had struggled during spring training for the Angels, prompting some observers to question whether he was ready to make his major league debut.
However, he has assuaged those concerns during his performances since the opening of the season.
“I don’t have anything to say to those [critics],” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I had bad results, so I guess they have the right to say bad stuff about me. We just got started. I’ll just take it day by day and try to help the team.”
Ohtani was signed by the Angels after resisting overtures from several leading MLB franchises including the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.
Scioscia said he is not surprised at Ohtani’s early success.
“He had a great start on the mound on Sunday and is starting to get comfortable,” said Scioscia.