Ohtani ‘fine’ after limping off from historic start

ANAHEIM, Calif. — An exhilarating start to a historic night ended in potential injury for Shohei Ohtani, who exited his outing after taking a Jose Abreu cleat to his left ankle in the fifth inning on Sunday night.

Moments later, a Los Angeles Angels spokesperson said Ohtani’s ankle was merely sore and that he wasn’t removed because of injury. He will be reevaluated on Monday.

Ohtani, hitting on the same day of his start for the first time in his major league career, was left in to face Yoan Moncada with the bases loaded, two outs and Ohtani’s command seemingly wavering. Ohtani struck out Moncada with the seventh pitch of the at-bat, but catcher Max Stassi failed to corral a splitter, ultimately prompting Ohtani to cover home, where he got clipped by Abreu as he slid in to score the third Chicago White Sox run.

Ohtani limped off the field, leaving after 92 pitches and paving the way for Steve Cishek to finish the top of the fifth.

It was a sour end to an exhilarating night for Ohtani, who began it by throwing a baseball 101 mph in the top of the first and hitting a baseball 115 mph in the bottom of the first. Ohtani’s 100.6 mph pitch to Adam Eaton, which helped set up his first strikeout, was the fastest-thrown pitch by any starting pitcher this season. And his home run, which carried an exit velocity of 115.2 mph, was the hardest-hit home run of the season by any player.

Ohtani, 26, finished 1-for-3 at the plate, including a lineout to center and a hard groundout up the middle. On the mound, he was charged with three runs (one earned) on two hits, five walks and seven strikeouts in 4⅔ innings.

The right-hander was dominant through the first four innings, throwing numerous triple-digit fastballs while also showcasing a nasty splitter and a wipeout slider. He retired two of the first three batters he faced in the fifth — helped by a diving catch from right fielder Juan Lagares — but he issued back-to-back walks to Eaton and Abreu, then uncorked a wild pitch to lose the shutout.

Six pitches after that came the third strike that got away from Stassi, the throw to first, and Abreu coming around to score.

Ohtani became the first starting pitcher to bat second in a game since Jack Dunleavy in 1903.

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