Boston — Shohei Ohtani has already hit 109 mph and threw 81 of 99 pitches for strikes. So when he got to home base in the eighth inning of his greatest game here, he threw a fastball from the green. The monster banged his number on the wall too hard.
“He’s the best player in the league.” Red Sox starting pitcher Rich Hill told reporters after the Angels won the series 8-0 after Thursday’s game. “I think it’s something that everyone can agree on unanimously,” he said. It is very special to see such a person come. We haven’t seen it in 100 years and we won’t see it again in 100 years, so I think everyone should be really grateful for what we’re seeing.”
In fact, 29,476 people at Fenway didn’t see the home team win on Thursday. But they saw history. Ohtani digs into the plate in the first inning, becoming the first starting pitcher to rank fourth since Babe Ruth in 1919. (Russ took 4th place and Ohtani took 3rd place.)
Then Ohtani got to work and he left Ruth behind. A year after winning the AL MVP unanimously, Ohtani, 27, has a better chance. His number of strikers has dwindled like everyone else, but his conduct on the mound is the best of his career. He leads the league with 14.1 strikeouts per nine innings and has walked five this year alone.
Both numbers improved on Thursday when he struck out 11 and held no runs in seven innings. The 11th pitcher struck out more batters here without allowing a run or walk. And none of them came out 2-4 at bat.
In fact, Ohtani became the second starting pitcher to hit at Fenway since implementing the designated hitter in 1973. (Roger Clemens also scored this when the Red Sox put DH José Canseco in left field in 1996. He averaged 1.000 to finish the season, so he scored a point.)
When asked if this was his best outing in the majors, Ohtani disputed. “It’s better than last time,” he said. (Eight days ago, against the Guardians, he allowed two runs in five innings and three hits and five runs at bat.)
“It’s like another world,” said director Joe Maddon. “I hope people understand how unusual it is, what you’re seeing, and don’t take it for granted.”
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The Red Sox should appreciate that such a talent is very unusual. Ohtani baffled them. Trevor Story sniffed a splitter to start the outing and struck out with a foul tipped four-seam in the meantime, babbling on the four-seam and slider. Ohtani generated 29 swings, misses and strikeouts that were career highs in each of his four pitches. He went on three two-ball counts and one three-ball count. All three ended in outs. Catcher Max Stassi said the last strikeout (Story’s fourth) was the most impressive he’d seen all day.
“Once we [a 3–0 count], I thought, ‘Hey, we haven’t been here all day!’” Stassi joked that he barely moved his glove in seven innings. “Then it suddenly became 3-0 in center. 3-1, slightly up, swing and miss; 3-2, straight back to the heater. It was amazing.”
Rotationmate Patrick Sandoval put it more succinctly.
First baseman Jared Walsh opened his mouth. “He has 100 in his back pocket. He seems to need it whenever he needs it,” he said. “It blows me away. I’m running behind him and I don’t want any part of that splitter, curveball or 100 mph fastball. I can’t believe it.” When Ohtani threw his 100 mph fastball on his 68th pitch, Walsh turned to first base referee Nestor Ceja.
“No, there are only 100. [fifth] “I throw innings whenever I need to,” he said.
“I can’t believe it.” Ceja answered.
“Everyone thinks, ‘How can one person have so many talents?’” Walsh said. “And he went -Foot single.”
It was an 8 rocket traveling at 104 miles per hour, blocking the Angels’ 4th run and pushing Ohtani’s 17th off the wall. It was fine. He was no longer needed. His job is over.
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