ST. PETERSBURG — Inside the visiting clubhouse of Tropicana, the Angels celebrated Shohei Ohtani’s historic night by giving him and his interpreter a beer shower.
“It’s always good to get the beer shower,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Ohtani, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, received the same treatment following his first big league hit and hit first major league win, but Thursday night’s accomplishment in the Angels’ 5-3 win over the Rays was much more rare.
Ohtani became the first Japanese-born player in major league history to hit for the cycle with his four-hit night against the Rays. Ohtani sprayed hits all over Tropicana Field, and accomplished all of the most difficult tasks of a cycle before completing the feat with a seventh-inning single.
“After hitting a triple (in the fifth inning) all of the guys started to tell me about it, so that’s when I started to think about it," Ohtani said.
“I’m simply very happy that I was able to accomplish this. There have been so many other great Japanese players that have come before me. Being the first one to accomplish it, I’m really happy and it’s going to lead to a lot of confidence down the road.”
Ohtani needed only a single going into his fourth at bat, and he looped a single off right-hander Hunter Wood into right center field over second baseman Brandon Lowe.
He homered off Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough in his first at-bat, hitting an opposite field three-run homer that just cleared the left center field fence to give the Angels a quick 3-0 first-inning lead.
Ohtani led off the third inning with a double to right center, then tripled down the right field line in his third at-bat in the fifth inning.
“In order to hit the cycle, you need some power to hit the home run, some speed to get the triple,” Ohtani said. “And to be able to do it at the major league level at this stage is going to lead to a lot of confidence.”
He became the eighth Angels player to hit for the cycle and the first since Mike Trout on May 21, 2013. He is also the third player to record a cycle at Tropicana Field, but the first in nearly a decade. Most recently, B.J. Upton accomplished the feat with the Rays against the Yankees on Oct. 2, 2009. Detroit’s Carlos Guillen recorded the first Trop cycle on Aug. 8, 2006.
“He does everything right,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said of Ohtani. “Really, it’s been remarkable to see. We forget how young he is, too. He’s in a new country, second year here, 24 year old. He carries a lot on his shoulders, but he still stands pretty tall.”
Contact Eduardo A. Encina at email@example.com. Follow @EddieInTheYard.