ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani hit his 44th home run of the season to tie for the big league lead in the first inning of Wednesday’s opener of a doubleheader against the Reds, but gave up his outing on the mound due to the second inning. Christian Encarnacion-Strand was exhausted after a 2-2 fastball.
Ohtani, who missed his last scheduled start due to arm fatigue, pitched for the first time since Aug. 9. After he threw a 94.2 mph fastball to Encarnacion-Strand, manager Phil Nevin and athletic trainer Mike Frostad visited him on the mound. Ohtani immediately left the game along with Frostad, who was replaced by lefty Tyler Anderson.
The Japanese got out of a scoreless first inning without trouble and after Spencer Steer walked to start the inning, he got one out in the second stretch and stayed in circulation. Ohtani, the heavy favorite for the AL MVP award for the second time in three years, started this start with 19 consecutive scoreless innings.
What bothered him on the mound didn’t bother him at the plate. Ohtani hit the first pitch of the first inning to left fielder Andrew Abbott for a two-run drive that put the Angels ahead.
Ohtani is now two home runs shy of the 46 he hit during his 2021 MVP campaign and three shy of the club record of 47 set by Troy Glass in 2000.