Shohei Ohtani hits 1st Dodgers HR after (relatively) slow start

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 3: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium on April 3, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. The home run is Ohtani's first as a Dodger. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Shohei Ohtani has his first home run with the Los Angeles Dodgers, after nine games of expectation.

The two-way phenom notched his first long ball of the season on Wednesday in a 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants, taking reliever Taylor Rogers way deep at Dodger Stadium. Statcast measured the ball as traveling 430 feet and 105.6 mph off the bat.

Like with many Ohtani homers, the contact just sounded different:

Another angle, focused on the man himself:

The fan who caught the homer was later seen being escorted from the stands. The Athletic’s Sam Blum later reported she exchanged the home run ball for a ball, two caps, a bat and a meeting with Ohtani.

Home runs by left-handed hitters are a rarity for Rogers, a sidearm left-hander. Ohtani’s same-side homer is only the eighth Rogers has allowed in his nine-year MLB career, and the first since 2021.

The homer put the Dodgers ahead 5-3 over the rival Giants, which wound up being very important as San Francisco slugger Jorge Soler hit a towering solo shot the next inning to cut the lead to one run. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers turned to journeyman reliever Dinelson Lamet to notch his first career save, which he got with a 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Ohtani’s homer comes after a somewhat slow start for the most famous player in baseball, who entered 2024 with enormous attention, and pressure, after signing a heavily deferred 10-year, $700 million deal in free agency with the Dodgers. He entered Wednesday hitting .242/.297/.333, which isn’t too bad this early in the season, unless you have Ohtani-size expectations.

As he told reporters after the game:

“Honestly, very relieved that I was able to hit my first home run. It’s been a while, and honestly, my swing hasn’t been great. So overall, very relieved.”

The homer also puts Ohtani one step closer to humorous history. He’s only six homers behind current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts for the most by a Japanese-born player in Dodgers history, as MLB.com’s Sarah Langs noted.