BALTIMORE—Shohei Ohtani stood at the plate and watched. After a few seconds, he dropped his bat and trotted around the bases as a shocked Oriole Park crowd realized they had witnessed something unique.
Ohtani’s home run, which was estimated at 456 feet, scored three runs and put the Los Angeles Angels ahead, 7-4, in the fourth inning, but he wasn’t done.
After walking in the first, singling and scoring in the third, Ohtani tripled to right-center, scoring the Los Angeles Angels’ ninth run in the fifth in a 9-5 win over the Orioles before an announced crowd of 20,148 at Camden Yards on Monday night.
The matchup of Ohtani and Grayson Rodriguez was highly anticipated, but the Orioles’ promising young starter had the worst appearance of his eight-start major league career.
“Big league hitters are going to hit mistakes, especially when they’re left over the plate,” Rodriguez said. “If you start out behind as a pitcher, it makes things pretty tough.
“I think it should have been down and away. Obviously, it caught too much plate. He was able to get a barrel on it.”
Rodriguez (2-1) allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3 1/3 inning, both career highs. His ERA rose from 5.08 to 6.57.
“There are a lot of learning experiences, obviously some good and some bad,” Rodriguez said. “Picking and choosing the things to learn from each game. Obviously, you learn the best from your mistakes. It’s unfortunate that starts like this happen, but ultimately I’m going to learn the most from this one.”
“When he threw his fastball, it was the middle part of the plate and he just had a tough time locating tonight,” manager Brandon Hyde said.
Ohtani (5-1) worked seven innings, allowing five runs on four hits.
“He’s one of the best players on the planet,” Hyde said. “We scored five runs off him, hit a few homers. I thought their at-bats were as good as they can be. We didn’t get a ton of hits, but we squared up three balls and put them over the fence.”
The Orioles’ five runs against Ohtani came on home runs — two-run home runs by Adam Frazier and Anthony Santander, who played first base for the first time in his major league career, and a solo shot by Cedric Mullins.
Frazier’s homer in the second put the Orioles (26-15) ahead, 2-1, and Santander’s in the third allowed them to regain a 4-3 lead.
By the time Mullins hit his, the Orioles were trailing by five runs.
Mullins homered against Ohtani on August 25th, 2021 when the Orioles broke their 19-game losing streak, second longest in club history. He’s one of four players with two home runs against him. Frazier is 5-for-11 against Ohtani.
“He’s a once in a generation player, once in a lifetime, really, couple of generations, I guess,” Frazier said. “He’s a special guy. I’m glad I can say I can compete against him. It’s fun. It brings out the best in everyone. You’re going to see something special usually when he’s hitting, too. It’s fun to compete against a guy like that.”
Chad Wallach’s home run leading off the fourth tied it at 4, and Ohtani’s three run home run put Los Angeles (22-20) ahead, 7-4. Matt Thaiss doubled to cap the five-run inning.
Hunter Renfroe’s double scored Ohtani in the fifth, and with two runners on in the seventh, Ohtani hit into a force play.
In the ninth, Ohtani, who was no longer pitchin, but still the designated hitter, singled to left. While he didn’t hit for the cycle, he was the first pitcher to start a game and reach base five times since the New York Yankees’ Mel Stottlemyre on September 26th, 1964.
“He’s one of the greatest players we’ve seen,” Hyde said. “Special talent. I don’t think we’re probably going to see anybody that talented that can do what he can do on the mound and at the plate.”
The Orioles won’t have to face Ohtani the pitcher for the final three games of this series. They will have to face the fearsome hitter.
“Competing against somebody like that, man it’s the big leagues,” Rodriguez said. “Hats off to him, everything he’s able to do. It’s just tough that I didn’t make the pitches when I needed to the most.”
Notes: The Orioles allowed a season-high 17 hits. … Dean Kremer (4-1, 4.97) will face Chase Silseth (0-0, 3.24) on Tuesday night.
Call for questions: I’ll be answering Orioles questions later this week. Please email yours to: [email protected]