Shohei Ohtani continues to dominate and garner national attention as he flashes his two-way superstardom.
Not only did Shohei Ohtani make his third start of Spring Training on the mound on Sunday; he also led off the game in the Angels lineup. According to Matt Birch, the Communications Manager for the Angels, no player has done this in the regular season since 1916. Just for good measure, Ohtani would go up against the star-studded San Diego Padres, who started Blake Snell on the mound and Fernando Tatis Jr. as the #2 hitter at shortstop.
Ohtani did not disappoint on either side of the ball. On the mound, Ohtani touched 101 mph, displayed three plus secondary pitches, and threw four innings of one-run ball along with five strikeouts. Some of those strikeouts came against Fernando Tatis Jr. and Wil Myers. At the plate, Ohtani reached base all three times, including singling twice against Blake Snell and Mark Melancon. It was a brilliant day that only furthered the Ohtani hype and optimism as the regular season approaches.
As the road team against the Padres in Peoria, Ohtani led off the game against the aforementioned Blake Snell. He wasted no time getting his day started by whacking the second pitch of the game the other way for a leadoff single.
After starting the game with a hit against one of the top-20 or so starters in the sport, Ohtani immediately turned around to face the top of the Padres lineup. His start wasn’t quite as strong on the mound, as the leadoff hitter tripled down the line, but Ohtani quickly rebounded to only allow one run to score. The second batter Ohtani faced was the electric Fernando Tatis Jr., who had the 2-0 advantage to start the count. Ohtani quickly turned the count around and finished Tatis Jr. off with a nasty splitter, getting his first strikeout of the day. His fastball sat at 95 mph and touched 99 in the first inning.
Ohtani continued to crush it, not allowing a run the rest of the day and reaching base two more times at the plate. In his second plate appearance of the day, Ohtani laid off a few nasty and well-located breaking balls from Blake Snell to reach base via a walk. In the very same inning, Ohtani was back on the mound and hit 101 mph against Tatis Jr., according to the stadium gun.
Ohtani found himself in trouble by loading the bases but he was able to escape danger. After touching 100 mph against Jurickson Profar, Ohtani finished off the inning and his outing on the mound with a brilliant curveball located perfectly on the outside corner.
Just for good measure, Ohtani came out to take his final plate appearance of the day against the veteran reliever Mark Melancon. Ohtani saw Melancon’s signature curveball and crushed it the opposite way, nearly hitting the pitch out. Ohtani was called out after slid too hard and came off the bag at second base, which was basically the only real mistake he made the entire day.
It was yet another incredibly encouraging performance from Shohei Ohtani. On the mound this spring, Ohtani has struck out 14 batters in eight innings, consistently sat in the mid-to-upper 90’s, and flashed three plus secondaries. Some of the players he has struck out this spring include Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers, José Abreu, Matt Olson, Yasmani Grandal, Yoán Moncada, Luis Robert, Mark Canha, and Mitch Moreland. At the plate, Ohtani has a 1.836 OPS, including four home runs, one of which was a 464-foot homer against Shane Bieber, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner.
Get excited, Angels fans. Shohei Ohtani is flashing the two-way play that the sport hasn’t seen since Babe Ruth a century ago. If this play continues, we could be in for a very exciting 2021 season for the Angels.