Ohtani’s First Day in Colorado Ends in Epic Battle 

Ohtani’s First Day in Colorado Ends in Epic Battle 

by July 13, 2021 0 comments

The Babe Ruth comparisons continued as the Angels Shohei Ohtani arrived in Denver for the 2021 All-Star festivities. The two-way sensation is not Ruth. There will never be another Babe Ruth. However, in many ways, he may be something better. He’s ShowTime! Something needed in today’s often cynical sports world. Evident in his epic first-round derby battle with another young face of baseball. 

Prior to competing in Monday’s Home Run Derby, the first-time All-Star appeared at the podium at an MLB press conference. American League manager Kevin Cash announced Ohtani would be the starting pitcher and lead-off hitter in the All-Star game Tuesday. An hour later, he would walk on the field at Coors Field donning Hank Aaron’s number 44. Not unique to the Angels slugger but certainly thematic as the home run events of the day approached. 

For the first time ever, the fourth-year MLB pitcher-DH is getting national attention like he has never seen. His gentleman’s behavior was infectious in his media interviews prior to the Derby. Sadly, this seems to be a rarity among many of today’s modern professional athletes. Ohtani rarely takes batting practice with Angels during the regular season. Something that would seemingly work against him in a Home Run Derby. Yet, he completed his pre-derby BP by hitting the last pitch over 500 feet off the upper deck. The stage was set for the young phenom’s first Home Run Derby. 

The eight-man derby pool was introduced around 6 PM local time in Denver. Ohtani would wait for the other seven participants to finish their first-round sessions before getting his turn. The slugger would finally get his chance one and a half hours later, following head-to-head opponent Juan Soto’s 22 home run total. It would be almost a minute into his three-minute round before he would hit his first home run. Hitting one line drive after another down the right field line. He took a much-needed time out and found his groove. Tying Soto’s 22 home runs in the final seconds. 

Ohtani was visibly exhausted after completing his first four-minute round before going into the tie-breaker. Soto, who benefited from some rest while his Japanese counterpart was hitting, stepped in for his one-minute tie-breaker round. Slugging eight more home runs in his provided minute of hitting. Ohtani would stagger to the batter’s box like a prizefighter in the later rounds of a title fight. The fatigued slugger matched Soto’s 28 home runs total with 8 more majestic bombs. In the process hitting 6 of his 28 home runs over 500 feet in distance. Two more than the total number of 500-foot shots in the previous four Home Run Derby’s combined. 

By this point, the fan favorite was beaten. Soto would hit all three swings of the final tie-breaker for home runs. The 27-year-old Ohtani couldn’t manage to get his first swing out of the infield. The seemingly superhuman superstar was defeated in an epic first-round battle. The battle clearly had an effect on Soto as well. The 22-year-old would fall to eventual champion Pete Alonso in the next round.  

Alonso would prevail as back-to-back Home Run Derby champion. Only the third player to do so in the thirty-five-year history of the event. Still, the Ohtani-Soto first-round match is likely what most fans will remember about the 2021 Home Run Derby. As two young superstars of the game battled it out through two tie-breaker rounds. While Alonso took home the hardware, Major League Baseball was the big winner Monday night. Showcasing a group of amazing young athletes that could be among the best to ever play the game. 

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

Lifelong baseball fan, writer, IBWAA member, and source for all things Los Angeles Angels. Future, current, and past Halos news. Follow on Twitter @_HaloLife.

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