Shohei Ohtani matches Sammy Sosa's MLB record
Shohei Ohtani will become the first Japanese-born player to start an All-Star Game in over a decade next week, and he proved why on Friday.
Shohei Ohtani equalled Sammy Sosa's MLB record and set one of his own as he hit a 33rd home run of the season for the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani has sent plenty of records tumbling already this season and continued his outstanding form against the Seattle Mariners, although it was not enough to propel the Angels to victory as they went down 3-7.
The 26-year-old, who last month joined all-time great Babe Ruth as the only player in American League (AL) history to have had 25-plus home runs, 10-plus stolen bases and 75 pitching strikeouts in their career, is set to become the first Japanese-born player to start an All-Star Game since Ichiro Suzuki in 2010 and will also feature in the Home Run Derby.
Already down as the star attraction for the festivities at Coors Field, Ohtani – the first player to be named to an MLB All-Star Game as a position player and a pitcher – offered another reminder of his quality with a remarkable 463-foot blast at T-Mobile Park.
One of the biggest hits at the stadium, which has been in use since 1999, came from Marco Gonzales' pitch, with Ohtani recording a power of 116.5mph off the bat, putting the Angles into a 3-0 lead in the third inning, though Seattle fought back to secure victory.
It also brought Ohtani level with Sosa for the most home runs by a player born outside of the United States prior to an All-Star break.
Barry Bonds (39) holds the all-time record, though Ohtani's 16 home runs in his last 21 appearances are the most by any AL player during a season.
Cortes and Yankees hit back
While Ohtani's efforts proved fruitless for the Angels, the New York Yankees had little trouble in dispatching the Houston Astros on their first return to Minute Maid Park since a 2019 defeat in the American League Championship Series.
The Yankees prevailed 4-0, with Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu each scoring two-run doubles. Nestor Cortes, meanwhile, starred with the ball. Handed a spot-start, he led the way in the shutout.
"I have bad history against the Houston Astros," said Cortes, who had given up six home runs in four previous games against the Texas side. "So to give four innings of strong baseball was good. And we got the win, so that's what was most important."
Acuna restrained as Braves come up with the win
Ronald Acuna Jr had to be stopped from confronting Miami Marlins pitcher Anthony Bender as the Atlanta Braves won 5-0.
Acuna was struck by a slider in the seventh innings and seemed set to charge over to Bender before he was held back by Marlins catcher Jorge Alfaro and the home plat umpire.
It is the seventh time Acuna has been hit by a Miami pitcher since his rookie season in 2018 – indeed, a hit-by-pitch in the meeting on July 2 led to the ejection of the Marlins' Pablo Lopez.
"Not a big deal," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said. "He hit him with a breaking ball. Everybody handled themselves fine."
Charlie Morton was the star for Atlanta, meanwhile, with the 37-year-old striking out seven and walking out two.