ARLINGTON, Texas — Amherst's Jonah Heim backed out of the box and took a deep breath after swinging and missing the first two pitches from two-way standout Shohei Ohtani.
The switch-hitting catcher, batting ninth for the Texas Rangers with the bases loaded, didn’t miss the next pitch.
Heim hit a grand slam when the reigning AL MVP left a splitter up in the zone, and the Rangers went on to a 10-5 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night. Heim later added an RBI single before Ohtani was out of the game.
Amherst native with his first career grand slam -- and it's the first career one allowed by Shohei Ohtani. Wow. https://t.co/AroqrvKQMA— Mike Harrington (@ByMHarrington) April 15, 2022
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“He just has no fear in those moments,” manager Chris Woodward said of Heim, who is 6 for 11 in three games this season.
“I was a little jacked up on my first two swings trying to do a little too much,” Heim said. “His stuff was good. Luckily he just kind of left one a little up for me, and I put a good swing on it.”
Corey Seager crushed his first home run with the Rangers right after Ohtani was pulled off the mound, though the Angels starter got to stay in as the designated hitter and hit a double in the ninth inning.
Ohtani (0-2) struck out five over 3⅔ innings, but allowed six runs on six hits and threw only 70 pitches.
“I thought I made a couple of good splitters ... obviously the one I gave up the grand slam just hung up there,” Ohtani said through his translator.
“His command wasn’t as sharp. He started out with a good velocity. Then that came down a bit, but an 0-2 grand slam from a No. 9 hitter on one of his best pitches is really unusual,” manager Joe Maddon said. “He wasn’t on top of this game. It’s going to happen.”
Heim’s first career slam put Texas up 4-2 in the second inning, which began with back-to-back singles by Nathaniel Lowe and Adolis Garcia. It was the first grand slam allowed by Ohtani in his 37 big-league starts, and the first MLB homer the right-hander gave up on a splitter.
"If the Amherst native were to go on and play a decade or more in the major leagues, he'll probably never have another weekend like this one," writes Mike Harrington.
Entering the at-bat, opponents were 0 for 58 with 41 strikeouts against 0-2 splitters from Ohtani in the two-way star's career. Heim was 0 for 6 vs. Ohtani last year but went 2 for 2 with five RBIs Thursday.
The Angels led 2-0 before Ohtani threw his first pitch of the game. Mike Trout’s second homer of the season was a massive 472-foot solo shot to straightaway center before Brandon Marsh had an RBI single off starter Dane Dunning.
John King (1-0) threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Dunning, before Brock Burke struck out five in two innings.
Heim, 26, batted .196 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs for the Rangers in 82 games last season. Aside from his two walkoff home runs, the high point of his season were the pair of standing ovations he got in Sahlen Field after getting hits in two games played in Buffalo against the Toronto Blue Jays.