DENVER (AP) — Top-seeded Shohei Ohtani bowed out in the Home Run Derby's first round Monday, beaten by Nationals star Juan Soto in a scintillating showdown that went to a second tiebreaker.
Ohtani struggled early in his first round but rallied during his final minute to match Soto with 22 homers. In the first overtime, Soto led off and hit six homers over a minute. Ohtani matched that, too.
In the second tiebreaker, each got three swings. Soto went 3 for 3, while an exhausted Ohtani grounded out on his first attempt, ending the match. The official score: Soto 31, Ohtani 28.
Early on, the Los Angeles Angels pitcher/hitter phenom couldn't get anything in the air and didn't hit his first homer until 50 seconds had gone by.
Fellow Angels All-Star Jared Walsh put a cell phone to Ohtani's ear during his timeout, letting teammate Mike Trout provide Ohtani with a brief pep talk. Ohtani smiled listening to Trout's words and found his rhythm shortly after that.
Ohtani is the league leader in homers with 33, which is the most at the All-Star break in franchise history.
It's a big two-day All-Star stretch for Ohtani. He's the starting pitcher on Tuesday night and will be in the leadoff spot as the designated hitter.
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