Japanese pitcher-slugger sensation Shohei Ohtani made his first Major League Baseball start in nearly three months Sunday for the Los Angeles Angels at Houston.
Ohtani threw 49 pitches, 30 of them strikes, over 2 1/3 innings but departed after yielding a two-run home run to the Astros' George Springer.
In all, Ohtani allowed two runs on two hits, a single and homer to Springer, with two walks and struck out two batters in his first pitching start since June 6.
Ohtani was sidelined by a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but completed the final phase of his rehabilitation last Monday with a 50-pitch simulated game.
"I always wanted to get back on the mound as soon as I can," Ohtani said through a translator. "Hopefully I can finish the year strong with no setbacks or injuries."
Ohtani had a noted decrease in speed in the third inning but his start and overall effort pleased Angels manager Mike Scioscia.
"Stuff looked really good," Scioscia said. "I don't know if he was trying to do something different but the first two innings his stuff was a good as it has been. So that was exciting.
"We'll see how he feels and what he was trying to do. But he looked great."
Ohtani made Major League Baseball history as the only player besides Babe Ruth, a legend from a century ago, to start 10 games as a pitcher and hit at least 10 homers in the same season.
After completing a scoreless first inning, Ohtani matched Ruth as the only players to pitch at least 50 innings and hit 15 homers in the same season.
Ohtani returned from his injury in July after a month on the disabled list but only as a designated hitter.
Before the injury, Ohtani had a 3.10 earned-run average with 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings in nine starts.
As a batter, Ohtani is hitting .276 with 15 homers in 80 games.
The Angels plan to keep Ohtani on a once-as-week pitching schedule to the finish of the season, keeping him out of the lineup in batting as well on the days before and after mound appearances.
That could open the door for four more pitching appearances for Ohtani on Sundays this season.