Ohtani breaks mark for HRs by Japan-born player

Shohei Ohtani mashes a historic, no-doubt HR (0:35)

Shohei Ohtani passes Hideki Matsui for most home runs by a Japanese-born player in MLB with a 423-foot, two-run blast. (0:35)

  • ESPN News Services

Apr 21, 2024, 05:22 PM ET

LOS ANGELES — Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani has broken Hideki Matsui’s record for the most homers hit by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball.

Ohtani crushed a two-run homer deep into the right-field bleachers off Adrian Houser of the New York Mets in the third inning of L.A.’s 10-0 win Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

The homer was the 176th of Ohtani’s six-plus seasons in the majors. That’s one more than Matsui, the former New York Yankees slugger who played the final 10 seasons of his 20-year pro career in North America.

“Honestly, I was just relieved I was able to get it over with,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, Will Ireton.

Ohtani admired and emulated Matsui while growing up in Japan during the prime of Matsui’s MLB career. Yet Ohtani said the record was “not something I was cognizant of when I first started my career here, but as I got to know about it,” he began to pay attention to his place behind Matsui.

When Ohtani was asked whether he also hopes to emulate Matsui’s famed playoff poise if and when he finally reaches the MLB postseason, Ohtani joked that he currently is more focused on breaking manager Dave Roberts’ record for the most homers by a Japanese-born player in a Dodgers uniform.

Roberts leads Ohtani 7-5 in that competition.

“Hideki Matsui was a great ballplayer, a great home run hitter, a world champion,” Roberts said. “I know that Shohei admired him, so for him to eclipse that mark, it’s a big deal. I know whatever kind of mark is ahead of Shohei, he’s trying to take them all down.”

Ohtani’s record-breaking blast was hit 423 feet with a 110 mph exit velocity, and it put the Dodgers up 2-0. Ohtani hadn’t homered in his previous seven games, but he went 2-for-3 with a single, a walk and two runs scored in the Dodgers’ blowout victory, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

“We just tried a backdoor slider with that, and just wasn’t able to keep it out [of the strike zone],” Houser said. “You leave a pitch down the middle to him, he’s going to put a good swing on it, just like he did.”

The homer was Ohtani’s fifth in his first 24 games for the Dodgers, who signed the two-time American League MVP to a $700 million contract last winter. Ohtani hit 171 homers in six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s awesome,” teammate Tyler Glasnow said. “I’m sure he’ll have a lot more records while we’re playing here.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.