For a brief moment during Shohei Ohtani’s first major-league start, it looked like maybe the critics were right. In the second inning, Ohtani left a slider up, and Oakland Athletics infielder Matt Chapman hammered it for a three-run home run.
But Ohtani didn’t come undone. Instead, he collected himself and completely shut down the A’s to post a quality start in his major-league pitching debut.
It took two innings for Ohtani to fully settle in. The 23-year-old showed why every team fought for him during the offseason during the first inning. He pumped some impressive fastballs, topping out at 100 mph. While he had trouble getting his slider down, hitters had a hard time picking it up. After already picking up a strikeout, Ohtani ended the first with a beautiful splitter to finish off Matt Olson.
The Angels were able to jump on A’s starter Daniel Gossett, scoring two runs in the first inning.
Ohtani ran into trouble in the second. After a strikeout to begin the inning, Ohtani allowed two straight singles. That’s when Chapman struck. On an 0-1 pitch, Ohtani left a slider in the zone a little too long, and Chapman blasted it to left-center for a three-run homer. The hit erased Ohtani’s early lead.
Perhaps the home run put Ohtani at ease. After that, he was dominant. Over the next four innings, Ohtani did not allow the A’s to pick up a hit. The only blemish on his stat line between the third and the sixth was a walk to Matt Joyce.
The Angels didn’t sit by idly as Ohtani was throwing up zeroes. The team picked him up in the fifth, picking up another two runs to regain the lead 4-3.
With the bullpen warming in the sixth, Ohtani made quick work of the A’s. He worked an eight-pitch inning, getting three quick outs with some weakly-hit balls. Following the innings, Ohtani was congratulated by his Angels’ teammates in the dugout. After throwing 92 pitches, Ohtani’s day was over.
In his major-league pitching debut, Ohtani allowed three runs on three hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out six during the start. The Angels picked up a few more runs after Ohtani left the game, allowing the pitcher to pick up a 7-4 win in his debut.
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