It was a case of so close, yet so far for Shohei Ohtani on Thursday as the two-way star came within inches of making yet more MLB history in the Los Angeles Angels’ 8-7 win over the Oakland Athletics.
The 28-year-old stepped out to the plate in the eighth inning having already recorded a single, double and triple against the Athletics, needing a home run to become the first player to hit for the cycle while also being the game’s starting pitcher.
It’s safe to say that Ohtani got his chance.
The Angels star hit the first pitch he saw high into the air, with the crowd rising to their feet in anticipation.
But instead of clearing the field, Oakland’s center fielder Esteury Ruiz caught the ball at the wall, denying Ohtani a slice of history.
“It was off the end, so I knew it wasn’t gone off the bat,” Ohtani said through an interpreter, per the MLB website.
“I just wish it would have gone out because we had runners on base. That’s all I was thinking about.”
The last player to hit for the cycle and pitch in the same game was Jimmy Ryan in 1888, per MLB. On that day, though, Ryan was not the starting pitcher for the Chicago White Stockings.
Ohtani has already written his name in the history books, becoming the first Japanese-born player to hit a single, double, triple and home run all in the same game – what’s known in the sport as a “cycle” – in 2019.
Despite those inside the Angel Stadium not witnessing history on Thursday, Ohtani’s efforts contributed to his team’s eventual win over the A’s.
The superstar did, however, give up five runs from the mound but was happy enough with his performance in the game.
“I actually felt the best I’ve felt all year at the plate,” Ohtani said, per the MLB website.
“I gave up those five runs, but I still felt pretty good, pitching-wise. Overall, it was a good day.”