Ohtani sets Japanese MLB record with 32nd homer

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani Belted his 32nd home run of the season Wednesday to surpass Hideki Matsui for most by a Japanese-born player in a Major League baseball campaign.

Ohtani pounded a 2-2 changeup from Boston hurler Eduardo Rodriguez to right field in the fifth inning of the Angels' 5-4 victory over the Red Sox.

"Thirty-two home runs in a season is just a passing point for a hitter like Shohei," Matsui said in a statement released by the Angels. "I was once considered a long ball hitter in the Majors, but I believe that he truly is a long ball hitter.

"Furthermore, he is an amazing pitcher. He exceeds what is considered conventional for a Major League player and there is no one else like him.

"I hope he continues his success this season as he carries the hopes and dreams of many fans and young children. As a baseball fan myself, I can't wait to see what he is able to do next."

Ohtani was playing in his 81st game of the season. Matsui's 31 homers -- the previous high for a Japanese-born player in MLB -- was set over 162 games with the New York Yankees in 2004.

Ohtani's milestone homer came a day after he pitched seven strong innings in a 5-3 victory on Tuesday -- when he also delivered a run-scoring double at the plate.

Ohtani's pitching start on Tuesday was his last before the All-Star Game next Tuesday -- in which Ohtani is set to pull double duty after being voted in as both a pitcher and designated hitter for the American League.

Ohtani is also set to take part in the Home Run Derby on Monday at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado.

Ohtani is the first player in MLB history to have at least 32 homers and 12 stolen bases before the All-Star break.

Ohtani also became the first player in Major League history to have at least 32 homers and 12 stolen bases before the All-Star break.

Ohtani's 32 homers before the break is tied for 13th in Major League history and the Angels still have three games remaining against the Mariners this weekend. Barry Bonds holds the all-time record with 39 homers before the break in 2001.

He'll go into the break with a 3.49 earned-run average and 87 strikeouts in 67 innings.