Angels 5 Red Sox 3
The narrative going into tonight would be that the Japanese phenom who couldn’t get out of the 1st inning in his last start would be taking on his hardest assignment all season. The Boston Red Sox were still in town with the most wins in baseball, and many casual viewers had already turned on the stud.
And for a minute, Ohtani still looked human. A leadoff double was surrendered to Kike Hernandez, who would later come around to score on a sacrifice fly. But the end of the inning did come this time on an impressive or lucky (or both) snag from the mound, and then the game started.
David Fletcher pushed the first pitch he saw from fireballer Nathan Eovaldi down the line to extend his hitting streak, matching the Red Sox half of the inning. Shohei Ohtani had an opportunity to make up for the run he allowed and two pitches later, he cashed in.
With 2 outs, Max Stassi stepped up and did not hesitate to bring the Angels their first lead of the series.
When Ohtani stepped back up on the mound in the 2nd, he was a different man. In typical fashion, he buckled down after the “shaky” first (in which he didn’t allow a hit with runners in scoring position) and cruised until the 6th with efficient placement of his pitches and a focus on inducing catchable contact instead of trying to whiff every guy seen.
Speaking of a notable difference in pitching strategy, Ohtani had a different catcher for the first time in a few months. Magically, 65 of his 89 pitches would be strikes. Must be some kind of coincidence.
But in the 6th, JD Martinez would dump an RBI single into left before Xander Bogaerts stepped up to bat. Ohtani served one up that seemed to spell doom for the night until it didn’t.
This wasn’t your cheapy little Kike Hernandez robbery like last night. This was a running yellow-line leaping robbery. With all of the momentum on the Angels’ side, they would then sort of luck into a few more runs, but the Red Sox were done in spite of a Hunter Renfroe meaningless solo shot in the top of the 9th.
David Fletcher went 4-4, Max Stassi was a triple shy of the cycle, and Ohtani went 7 innings with NO walks allowed. This was precisely the kind of game the Angels needed to make a statement, and make a statement they did.