Shohei Ohtani hits his first home run for Dodgers in sweep of Giants

By | April 4, 2024

Shohei Ohtani watches his first home run as a Dodger flies well over the fence.

The officials in the yellow windbreakers clambered into the right field pavilion – high and deep into the pavilion, following the arc of the ball. Shohei Ohtani had his first home run as a Dodger and Team Yellow Windbreaker was on a mission to secure the milestone ball.

After eight games on two continents without a home run, the $700 million man — the one who led the American League in home runs last year — hit his first home run Wednesday, in the seventh inning, in his 37th at-bat this season . Not to say Los Angeles was anxious or anything, but Miguel Rojas had hit his second home run of the season earlier in the game.

The home runs – the 400-foot one from the designated slugger and the one from the light-hitting shortstop – highlighted the Dodgers’ 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants.

Team Yellow Windbreaker delivered the fan who caught Ohtani’s home run to Ohtani himself, who happily traded a bat, a ball, two hats and a few moments of conversation with the fan for what he called “a very special ball.”

The adjective everyone in the Dodgers clubhouse used to describe Ohtani was “relieved.” Rojas took advantage of it. Manager Dave Roberts used it. Ohtani used it herself.

“Honestly, very relieved that I was able to get my first homer,” he said through interpreter Will Ireton. “It has been a while.”

Ohtani’s last regular-season home run came seven months and 11 days earlier. His next postseason home run will be his first.

The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Giants and their record sits at 7-2 as usual, atop the National League West. They scored at least five points in each of their matches. So here we go again: the Dodgers are on track to win 126 games!

Read more: Watch Shohei Ohtani’s first home run as a Dodger

This is what we do every year at this time of year. The hapless Colorado Rockies have played seven games and are already five games out of first place.

The Dodgers have started the season 7-2 in three of the last four non-pandemic seasons. They won 111 games in one of those three seasons, 106 in each of the other two. This is what they do.

“There were times that I can remember, four years ago in May, we were really terrible,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We were around .500. It’s just more of continuing to play and trying to win that day. … We’re not trying to get to the postseason today. We’re just trying to win. Win or lose, we’ll do it the next day. I think that’s the secret sauce.”

In none of those three big seasons – the 111-win season and the two 106-win seasons – did the Dodgers advance to the World Series.

“If you get kicked in the teeth for a few years and underperform,” Roberts said, “if it comes to not winning the World Series, then you have talent. And then you have guys who are obsessed and hungry. And as an aggressor that is a shame. good thing.

“Not that there was any complacency, but there is a different kind of fire within our guys.”

Journeyman Dinelson Lamet, 31, the fourth Dodgers pitcher and the last available after Tuesday’s bullpen game, shot a perfect ninth for his first Major League save.

The win went to Tyler Glasnow (2-0) in an intriguing quality start.

For all the protective measures the Dodgers impose to care for their pitchers – inning limits, pitch counts, extra days between starts, generous use of the injured lists – they did not maintain a fundamental principle of in-game analytics.

The principle is easily said and understood: Don’t let your starting pitcher face opponents for the third time. That principle is the basis for the five-inning starter and the 13-man pitching staff.

In general, the statistics bear that out, as a pitcher’s performance tends to decline during a third trip through the lineup. But the Dodgers didn’t pay Glasnow $136.5 million to simply be another arm.

Read more: Tyler Glasnow brings SoCal cool to Dodgers. Will he help his hometown team win a title?

They paid him to be an ace, with a powerful arm that could propel him through that third trip.

In his Dodgers debut, Glasnow faced two batters through the order for the third time. He retired them both.

In his second start, he faced four batters for the third time in the order. He retired them all.

On Wednesday, in his third start, Glasnow took a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning and in his third trip through San Francisco’s lineup. He got the first out, but then LaMonte Wade Jr. got the first out. a walk, Jorge Soler doubled and Michael Conforto singled in both runners, cutting the Dodgers’ lead to one.

Glasnow finished the inning, but he threw 28 pitches in the inning and 100 total. He hasn’t thrown more than 103 in a game since 2021.

“The way our rotation is set up, with extra days (between starts), we’re going to be doing this with a lot of our guys,” Roberts said. “That is something we are committed to.”

As the Dodgers get deeper into the season and pitchers increase their pitch counts, Roberts said the team would ask not only Glasnow, but also Bobby Miller, James Paxton and Gavin Stone to navigate the lineup for a third trip.

“We’re going to push these guys in the games they start,” Roberts said. “They’re going to have to use 23, 24 hitters. That’s my expectation every time they take the mound.”

That’s a story to watch into the summer. On this third day of April, the story was Ohtani. The Dodgers’ social media accounts posted a video of the home run with the caption in all caps: “THE FIRST OF MANY FOR SHOHEI OHTANI.”

However, on the night Ohtani hit his first home run of the season, Rojas hit his second. How long does Ohtani need to catch up with Rojas?

“I hope,” Rojas said with a broad smile, “it won’t be long.”

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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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