Shohei Ohtani is having one hell of a season, and it continued on Thursday night.
The two-way superstar threw seven scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts in the Los Angeles Angels’ 8-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox, but it was another feat in the game which had the Japanese star following a baseball legend’s path.
Hitting third and making his first start as a pitcher at Fenway Park – the famous home of the Red Sox – Ohtani became the first starting pitcher to bat in one of the top four spots in a game at the stadium since Babe Ruth did so on September 20, 1919.
Ohtani was successful at the plate too – going 2-for-4 from the plate to go along with an RBI single in the eighth.
Angels manager Joe Maddon called Ohtani’s abilities “otherworldly.”
“I hope you don’t start taking that for granted. Like it’s old hat,” Maddon told the media. “It’s just so unusual. It’s otherworldly, on this level of this game.”
In the win against Boston, Ohtani threw a season-high 99 pitches, setting a career-high for swings and misses with 29, his previous high being 26.
According to the MLB, 29 is the second most swings and misses in Angels history since 2008.
Following the game, the 2021 AL MVP was asked about the experience of coming to Fenway: “That’s one of my favorite ballparks. I was looking forward to pitching here, and I felt like it left a really good impression on me.”
Ohtani threw 81 of his 99 pitches for strikes, also a career best.
“He’s the best player in the league,” Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill said. “I think that’s one thing everybody can pretty much unanimously agree upon.
“It’s pretty special to see somebody like that come along. I think everybody should be really appreciating what we’re seeing because it’s something we haven’t seen in 100 years, and we may never see it again for another 100 years.”