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Near-perfect Ohtani mows down A’s

The Associated Press

Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani fires a pitch in the first inning against the Oakland Athletics on Sunday in Anaheim, Calif.

The Associated PressANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani seemed to be the only person in Angel Stadium who wasn’t incredibly impressed while he mowed down the Oakland Athletics’ first 19 batters in order.

But when Ohtani finally yielded a hit and then struck out Matt Olson with two runners on to end the seventh inning, he gave a fist pump and a celebratory scream at the ground while the crowd rose for a standing ovation.

Even the two-way Japanese sensation realized his first home pitching start was a thrilling moment in his increasingly incredible rookie season.

Ohtani threw seven shutout innings of one-hit ball in his home debut on the mound, propelling the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-1 victory Sunday.

Marcus Semien’s clean one-out single to left broke up Ohtani’s bid for a perfect game, but he finished the inning with his 12th strikeout. Mixing 158 kph fastballs with precipitous breaking pitches and tremendous professional cool, Ohtani (2-0) was too much for Oakland — until the seventh, when he showed resilience, too.

“I wanted to keep a clean zero on the board,” Ohtani said. “One hit would [mean] two runs, and it’s a huge difference. I wanted that strikeout, and I got it.”

Ohtani struck out the side twice during the latest feat in a series of early season superlatives by the 23-year-old prodigy. He won his pitching debut in Oakland last weekend with six strong innings, and he homered in three consecutive games in Anaheim between starts in his attempt to become the first regular two-way player in decades.

“Especially with how my spring training went, I wasn’t really imagining [the start of the season] to be this good, to be honest,” Ohtani said. “I feel better every day. I feel like I’m getting used to everything more and more each day. But it’s just the first week.”

In the seventh, Jed Lowrie drew a four-pitch walk after Semien’s single, but Ohtani ended the threat by inducing Khris Davis’ weak groundout before fanning Olson.

He left the mound to the last of several standing ovations from his enthralled new fans in the sellout crowd — an unheard-of gathering at Angel Stadium in April.

“It’s a rare kind of talent to do it both ways, and it’s great to watch,” Angels second baseman Zack Cozart said. “It didn’t look like [the A’s] had a chance up there, the way he was throwing.”

Mike Trout and Ryan Schimpf homered, and Albert Pujols had an RBI double in the Angels’ seventh win in nine games.

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Hirano picks up 1st win

ST. LOUIS (AP) — David Peralta hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer off Dominic Leone in the eighth, A.J. Pollock went deep later in the inning and the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 Sunday in a game marred by a benches-clearing incident in the second inning.

Arizona manager Torey Lovullo was ejected by plate umpire Tim Timmons in the second inning. Arguing a called third strike on Pollock, Lovullo got into a shouting match with St. Louis catcher Yadi Molina. Molina appeared to lunge at Luvollo and made contact as players ran onto the field.

Yoshihisa Hirano (1-0), a 34-year-old Japanese right-hander who agreed to a $6 million, two-year contract in December, pitched a perfect seventh for his first major league win.Speech

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