Shohei Ohtani's first walk-off hit for the Dodgers caps an eventful week for the superstar slugger

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shohei Ohtani's first walk-off hit for the Los Angeles Dodgers was also his first game-ending hit in the majors in nearly four years.

His still-new teammates and fans who celebrated with him Sunday at Chavez Ravine expect to see many more feats from a superstar who's somehow getting even better in Dodger Blue.

Ohtani pulled a low fastball to right with two outs in the 10th inning, scoring Jason Heyward and ending the Dodgers' 3-2 victory over Cincinnati. Two teammates doused Ohtani with water while a crowd of 52,656 roared for the latest feat by the $700 million slugger.

“We always say he's the best player in the world, and you see it,” Dodgers outfielder Andy Pages said.

The clutch hit off Alexis Díaz capped an extraordinarily eventful week for Ohtani, who is thriving on the field for Los Angeles amid the potential off-field distraction of his former interpreter being charged with bank and tax fraud after allegedly stealing millions from Ohtani to fund his gambling habit.

“I was looking to just put the ball in play, so I’m glad it worked out well,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “We dropped the first game of the series, so we really wanted to finish strong.”

The two-time unanimous AL MVP is off to the best start of his major league career while backed by the Dodgers' powerful lineup and pitching staff. With two hits Sunday, he is batting .393 in May with six homers and 14 RBIs while making more hard contact than he ever did in Anaheim and striking out at the lowest rate in his major league career.

Playing only as a designated hitter this season while his pitching arm rests and heals, Ohtani entered the weekend as the majors' leader in batting average, OPS, total bases and hits. He even shared the major league lead with 13 homers, although he fell behind Houston's Kyle Tucker and Baltimore's Gunnar Henderson over the weekend.

“He’s had a lot of big hits for us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But the first walk-off, certainly at home, was exciting.”

Ohtani has been in a spotlight almost every day since Los Angeles began its current homestand, and he has handled the pressure splendidly.

The Dodgers handed out their first Ohtani bobblehead doll on Thursday, and the event created hours-long traffic jams outside the stadium — and a bit of pandemonium at the gates when the team began running out of the giveaways an hour before the first pitch.

Ohtani was honored at City Hall on Friday, which was recognized as Shohei Ohtani Day in Los Angeles. He celebrated the honor by hitting a homer in the Dodgers' victory that night.

Ohtani went 0 for 4 on Saturday, but he had two hits Sunday for his major league-leading 21st multi-hit game, capped by that single to win it. Ohtani's only other walk-off hit in the majors happened in September 2020 with the Angels.

With Ohtani's game-winner, the Dodgers improved to 32-17 following their 20th victory in their last 26 games. It's still a bit too early to think about Ohtani making his major league playoff debut this fall, but the slugger is putting himself in position to have many more big moments this year for his new team.

“There's excitement every time he comes up, so it was good for him to send us home happy,” Dodgers starter Landon Knack said.



Greg Beacham, The Associated Press