ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani fouled a 2-2 pitch off his ankle in the fifth inning. He fouled the next pitch off his leg, just above his knee.
The Los Angeles Angels slugger shook off the pain, stepped back in and immediately hit a 433-foot homer that gave him a new place in Japanese baseball history.
“That’s how tough he is,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “He stayed in there, got himself right and hit a homer.”
Ohtani hit his major league-leading 32nd homer and broke the single-season major league record for homers by a Japanese player during the Angels’ 5-4 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday.
Fellow All-Star Jared Walsh homered twice for the Angels, who won for the sixth time in seven games and took two of three from the AL-leading Red Sox on another landmark day for Los Angeles’ two-way superstar.
A day after Ohtani pitched seven innings to beat Boston, he broke Hideki Matsui’s record with his solo shot to right off Eduardo Rodríguez (6-5), putting the Angels ahead to stay in the fifth inning.
Matsui hit 31 homers for the Yankees in 2004, but Ohtani surpassed the mark in just 81 games before the All-Star break with his 15th homer in his past 20 games.
“I’ve said it before, but he’s someone I’ve been watching as a child growing up, so it’s a huge honor to do something he’s done,” Ohtani said through his translator.
Matsui, who played for the Angels in 2010, returned the love.
In a statement issued by the team, Matsui said Ohtani “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.”
Walsh homered right after Ohtani’s blast and added another solo shot in the seventh, giving him 22 homers in his breakthrough season as Albert Pujols’ full-time replacement at first base. Walsh drove in three runs for the Angels (44-42) as they moved two games above .500 for the first time since April 21.
Xander Bogaerts had three hits and drove in a run for the Red Sox, who lost for just the third time in 13 games while finishing 3-3 on their six-game California road swing. Boston hadn’t lost back-to-back games since June 24.
“We had our chances the last two days,” Boston manager Alex Cora said. “We had traffic all over the place. We weren’t able to get the big hit. That happens. We were so good offensively coming into this trip. We just haven’t had that big hit the last few days.”
After Mike Mayers escaped an eighth-inning jam with a lead, Raisel Iglesias struck out the side in the ninth for his 18th save.
Andrew Heaney (5-6) pitched six-hit ball into the sixth inning for the Angels, bouncing back from three straight rough starts with a solid effort against the AL’s best team. He walked two and struck out five while giving up three runs.
Rodríguez yielded nine hits and four runs over five inconsistent innings for Boston, striking out five. The Angels made little solid contact against him until their back-to-back homers.
“It’s kind of hard when you know your pitches are working pretty good and they start hitting balls like that, but those things happen,” Rodríguez said. “I have to get out of those. Blooper, homer, whatever, that’s something you have to take out of the game.”