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Ohtani hits 31st homer, ties Matsui’s Japanese MLB HR record

July 4, 2021 GMT
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after swinging a strike during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after swinging a strike during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) reacts after swinging a strike during the first inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani has hit his major league-leading 31st homer of the season for the Los Angeles Angels, tying Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers in a Major League Baseball season by a Japanese-born player.

Ohtani crushed a 459-foot solo shot off Baltimore’s Thomas Eshelman in the third inning Sunday, clearing the ficus trees behind the center field fence.

With his 14th homer in the last 17 games, the Halos’ two-way sensation tied the MLB homer record for Japanese-born players set by Matsui in 2004.

Matsui needed 159 games to hit his 31 homers for the Yankees, while Ohtani has done it in just 81 games for the Angels while also making 12 starts on the mound.

Ohtani also extended his own major league record for the most homers in a season with at least 10 games pitched. With his 29th and 30th homer on Friday, Ohtani tied and passed Babe Ruth’s previous record of 29, set in 1919.

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Ohtani passed Mike Trout on Friday for the most homers in Angels history before the All-Star break. He is also the first player in American League history to record 30 homers and 10 stolen bases in his team’s first 81 games of a season.

Ohtani was voted to his first major league All-Star team last week.

The Angels led Baltimore 4-0 after three innings.

Ohtani’s next mound start is Tuesday night against Boston. It will be his final pitching performance before the All-Star Game in Denver.

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