Brandon Razauskas had the ball in his hands — the ball, the one Shohei Ohtani, a once-in-a-lifetime player, had just driven out of Camden Yards an estimated 456 feet. The ball hit a closed gate out near the Boog’s BBQ stand along Eutaw Street, then ricocheted multiple times before it landed among Razauskas and his friends.

He looked at it. That ball.

And then as those around him raised their voices, urging the young man to throw the ball back, he just … did.

There it went, sailing back out of the right-field stands toward second base, gone forever.

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“I just had the crowd rush,” Razauskas said. “The crowd rush was there.”

His friends on either side, apparently, implored him not to listen to the peer pressure of people he’d never met. But the deed was done: Razauskas had thrown the sixth-longest home run ball of Ohtani’s career back out onto the field.

“Immediately regretted it,” Razauskas said. “It was worth it for about 30 seconds, and then I immediately regretted it.”

Grayson Rodriguez might’ve immediately regretted the first-pitch curveball he threw to Ohtani, too. It hung up there, in the middle of the zone, and on a stunning night for one of baseball’s most stunning players, Ohtani drove it out of the park as the loudest crack in a 9-5 Los Angeles Angels win against the Orioles that was full of fireworks.

Ohtani was the star, starting on the mound and finishing a double shy of the cycle at the plate. For the second straight visit to Camden Yards, Ohtani allowed three homers. But he and the rest of the Angels offense made up for those five runs against him in seven innings.

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The barrage for Los Angeles came against right-hander Rodriguez, who suffered through the shortest start of his major league career. In those 3 1/3 innings, Rodriguez allowed eight runs on nine hits, with Ohtani’s three-run blast in the fourth the heaviest blow.

The curveball to Ohtani “should’ve been a little bit more down and away,” Rodriguez said. “Obviously, it caught too much plate, and he was able to put a barrel on it.”

It unraveled slowly for Rodriguez, then all at once. A sacrifice fly drove in a run in the second. Gio Urshela’s two-run double brought some more. Then five runs came home in the fourth, chasing Rodriguez from the game.

The start to the 23-year-old’s major league career has included a high number of swings and misses, but the contact against him has been especially strong. There will be regressions along the way for the rookie. Last week, Rodriguez allowed two runs in the best start of his career, dodging danger from the major-league-leading Tampa Bay Rays.

But the promise of that start didn’t translate to Monday, and Ohtani tagged him with a walk, single and home run. And against right-hander Logan Gillaspie, Ohtani drove a triple into the right-center field gap, making it to third after Terrin Vavra’s dive came short.

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“There are a lot of learning experiences. Obviously, some good, some bad,” Rodriguez said. “Just kind of picking and choosing the things to learn from each game. Obviously, you learn the best from your mistakes, so it’s unfortunate starts like this happen, but ultimately I’m going to learn the most from this one.”

Had Ohtani managed a double, he would’ve become the first starting pitcher in MLB history to hit for the cycle, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He’ll have to settle for becoming the first starting pitcher to reach base safely five times in a game since 1964.

“I’m sure all of those records come because the sample size is so small,” said Ohtani through a team interpreter. “I don’t really look too deeply into it,” he concluded, before reframing his focus around a disappointing start on the mound: “A bad beginning to the game giving up those runs. That was the problem of the game today.”

Ohtani still pitched seven innings, despite the early knocks against him. Two years ago, in his only other start against Baltimore, Cedric Mullins, Anthony Santander and DJ Stewart went deep off Ohtani. On Monday, Mullins and Santander did so again, and Adam Frazier knocked his fourth dinger of the season to one-up his homer total of 2022 in 116 fewer games.

In his career, Frazier has found more success than most against Ohtani, hitting 5-for-11.

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“He’s a once-in-a-generation player, once in a lifetime, really,” Frazier said. “Special guy, and I’m glad to say I can compete against him, because it’s fun. He brings out the best in everyone. You’re going to see something special usually when he’s hitting, too. It’s fun to compete against a guy like that.”

But the success Baltimore had against the Ohtani on the mound didn’t make up the difference against the Ohtani at the plate. Ohtani came to Camden Yards and did it all.

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville. 

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