$700m Ohtani drives in run on Dodgers debut as MLB season starts in Korea

Shohei Ohtani’s RBI single capped a four-run eighth-inning rally in his Dodgers debut, and Los Angeles defeated the San Diego Padres 5-2 in Wednesday’s MLB season opener.

The game turned when a routine grounder went through the fabric of first baseman Jake Cronenworth’s glove as the tying run was scored.

Ohtani went 2 for 5 in his first game since leaving the Los Angeles Angels for a record $700 million, 10-year contract with the Dodgers. There were 15,952 people on hand to watch the Gocheok Sky Dome for the MLB’s first game in South Korea.

The two-time star, limited to batting after elbow surgery, also had a mental error that caused the final eighth inning. He was called out as he passed second base and then failed to touch the bag while retreating after Freddie Freeman’s flyout, setting up an inning-ending double play.

A bomb threat did not seem to affect the preparations before the match. Police found no explosives and said they acted on a tip that the threat was against Ohtani.

San Diego led 2-1 entering the eighth when Max Muncy led off with a walk against Wandy Peralta. Teoscar Hernández, also making his Dodgers debut, singled off Jhony Brito, one of the players the Padres acquired in the trade that sent star Juan Soto to the New York Yankees.

Josh Outman walked – Padres pitchers issued nine free passes – and Kiké Hernández’s sacrifice fly tied the score. Adrián Morejón relieved and Gavin Lux hit a chopper that Cronenworth tried to backhand, but the ball went straight through the fabric of the first baseman’s glove as Hernández came home for a 3–2 lead. Cronenworth was blamed for the bad luck mistake. Mookie Betts and Ohtani followed with RBI singles.

Betts, Ohtani and Freeman became the first MVPs to go 1-2-3 in a batting order since Philadelphia’s Joe Morgan, Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt over ten games in 1993.
Betts, who switched to shortstop this season, paired with Ohtani, finished 4 for 9 at the top of the rankings.

With new wife Mamiko Tanaka watching from the beach, Ohtani got his first hit with the Dodgers on a 110.3 mph single to right against Yu Darvish. He tried to steal second place but was sent back due to referee interference by Lance Barksdale.

Xander Bogaerts put the Padres ahead in the third with a runscoring single off Tyler Glasnow. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Bogaerts became the third player with goals in five countries, after Edgardo Alfonzo and Paul Goldschmidt. Bogaerts also has hits in the US, Canada, Mexico and England.

In the first game since MLB shortened the pitch clock with runners on base, Padres pitchers were called for four fouls, including two by Peralta and one by Darvish and Yuki Matsui.

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Ha-Seong Kim of San Diego, playing in his native country, went 0 for 3 with a walk.