Shohei Ohtani smashed his 16th home team of the season on Saturday by compatriot Yusei Kikuchi, who made an early finish from the Los Angeles Angels ’12 -5 win over the Seattle Mariners after being hit in the leg by a ball.
Despite trailing 1-0 on Ohtani’s first-half header, Kikuchi made a strong bid for his fourth win of the season when a comebacker drilled him in the right leg.
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits his 16th home run of the season in the first round of a U.S. league game against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, June 5, 2021. (Kyodo)
The left-handers waved eight and allowed two earned runs on five hits before being assisted by the diamond without anyone being at the bottom of the fifth at Angel Stadium.
Kikuchi was diagnosed with right knee confusion, but Seattle boss Scott Servais said he showed no signs of bone, ligament or joint injury and would undergo an MRI on Sunday.
The Mariners started the fifth leading 5-2, after scoring all their runs against starting Alex Cobb (4-2) in the fourth, but the wheels came off for the visitors with Kikuchi’s injury.
After adding two runs in the fifth, including one on a field error when Kikuchi was incompetent on the ground, the Angels took a 6-5 lead on the sixth as Taylor Ward belted a two-run homer against just Drew Steckenrider (2-2 ).
Angels ran away with the match after scoring five races on the eighth. Juan Lagares doubled in two races, Justin Upton doubled in two more and scored on an Ohtani double.
In the first major league game since 2019 between the two alumni from Hanamaki Higashi High School in northeastern Japan, Iwate Prefecture, Ohtani drew his first blood with his line drive that went out to midfield.
He finished second as Angels’ designated hitter, and Ohtani carried Kikuchi’s first pitch, a 152-kilometer cutter, and sent the rocket over the wall.
“All I thought about was hitting whatever ball came my way,” Ohtani said.
Kikuchi threw an opponent in the third and knocked out Ohtani who swung on a 2-2 slider in the middle of a 1-2-3 inning.
“I’m glad (Kikuchi’s injury) was not serious. I’m looking forward to our next matchup,” said Ohtani, who finished 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
At Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Shogo Akiyama came up clutch with a sliding catch in midfield to seal a 5-2 Cincinnati Reds victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.