The last time Ohtani stepped on the mound at Yankee Stadium was June 30, 2021 when he allowed 7 earned runs (3 inherited runs scored) in 0.2 innings. He looked poised to come back strong this time especially when the Angels got swept by the Blue Jays in a 4-game series at the home stand.
Today’s pitching matchup showcases a two-way player, Ohtani and the Yankees ace, Cortes who was originally drafted by Baltimore in the first round (9th overall) and signed with the Yankees on a minor league deal last season where he made 14 starts and also was a relief pitcher at the same time. But he has been phenomenal as a starter this year as he leads in ERA in both AL and NL.
Today marks the second annual Lou Gehrig day which has become an official day like Jackie Robinson Day since 2021. He passed away on June 2, 1941 at the age of 37. The ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which affects nervous system that controls muscles and brain to the point it disables walking, talking, and eating in the long run.
Gehrig was known for being an every-day player as he played 2130 consecutive games, thus having an iron horse as a nickname. He was a good friend with Babe Ruth and a 7-time All-Star with a Triple Crown title.
Stassi catches Ohtani today. As it is seen on left side of Ohtani’s jersey, Lou Gehrig patch is on everyone’s jersey to commemorate.
Ohtani — who bats the second — fights off several pitches from Cortes as he closely let fastball pass just outside the zone.
Ohtani grounds out on Cortes’ 85-mph cutter.
On bottom of the first inning, Ohtani faces Carpenter, who signed with Texas Rangers on a minor league this season, but later has joined a major league roster as a designated hitter for the Yankees. He fouls off Ohtani’s 99-mph fastball.
Ohtani’s average velocity along with command and whiff rate have gone up from last season.
Veteran hitter really makes Ohtani work by making him throw 10 pitches and he homers off his 11th pitch — 87-mph cutter — that stays in the heart of the plate.
The ball stays fair as it lands on the second deck.
What is amazing is that all of his first 3 hits as a Yankee has been a home run as he hits his 3rd long ball of the season.
After surrendering a solo home run, Ohtani meets Judge who is having a tremendous start in his final year as a Yankee before he becomes a free agent in 2023. In the beginning of the season, he turned down a 7-year, $213 million contract from the Yankees. If he continues to stay hot at this pace, he will definitely attract more lucrative offers.
Judge singles off a 98-mph fastball.
But next batter Rizzo, grounds into a double play.
5 (third base) – 4 (second baseman)
3 (first baseman) to empty the bases.
However, cleanup hitter, Torres does not hesitate to swing at the first pitch: 97-mph fastball up in the zone.
The second solo home run Ohtani allows gets caught by an ecstatic Yankees fan.
On bottom of the second, Ohtani allows a walk to Gallo, who is 0-for-3 with 3 strike outs against him.
After allowing a single to Hicks, catcher Trevino hits a long flyout to the left field to Lagares who hurriedly throws to prevent the runners on the first and second from moving to second and third.
But the runners — Hicks and Gallo — successfully advances to the second and third base on time.
With runners on the second and third with one out, pitching coach and interpreter visit the mound to discuss how to get out of this jam.
As Ohtani encounters predicament, he fires three consecutive fastballs — 99, 99, and 100 mph — to give Carpenter a run for his money and gets ahead in the count.
Ohtani gets Carpenter on a groundout with the fastest pitch of the day, a 101-mph fastball.
On Ohtani’s second at-bat on top of the third, he flies out on Cortes’ first pitch.
On bottom of the third inning, Ohtani ends up surrendering third solo home run to none other than Judge as he swats his 19th homer off a 86-mph hanging slider.
Ohtani deals with another high pitch count from Rizzo as he battles through 10 pitches and he manages to strike Rizzo out on a 98-mph fastball.
Torres is on Ohtani today as he drives one to the opposite field for a stand-up double.
Ohtani finally gets his first strikeout of the day from LeMahieu with a nasty splitter.
On bottom of the fourth, Ohtani allows a bloop single to Hicks despite throwing a 99-mph fastball away from the zone.
The ball drops in front of Trout who is a one step away from catching it.
Ohtani gets disappointed by crouching.
Next batter, Trevino makes a good contact on a full count.
The ball passes through between third baseman and shortstop which eventually leads to…
Ohtani’s early exit as Angels manager, Maddon, pulls him out with runners on first and second with no outs.
Lefty Quijada replaces Ohtani, but allows a double to Gonzalez.
Now with runners on second and third, the fearful batter steps in.
Maddon decides to walk Judge to road the bases rather than taking the chance to face him.
Quijada manages to strike out Rizzo for the second out and faces Torres, who ends up flying out to the left field to leave the 3 runners stranded.
The broadcast makes a statement that the reason for Torres flying out was because he smacked the dragon fly — who is known to be symbol of luck — in the on-deck.
On top of the fifth inning, Ohtani — who became a DH under the new rule — gets his first hit of the day by singling to the center field.
However, in the middle of Trout’s at-bat, something Ohtani did not expect happens.
Cortes turns towards the first base while Ohtani was away from the first base.
And throws the ball for a pickoff to Rizzo. Being a left-handed pitcher makes it much easier.
The first base umpire calls it out and Ohtani gets picked off for the first time in his career.
The throw and timing were on spot that the play was not even close when he was tagged.
The basic rule of pickoff is that its foot should be either on the pitching rubber or pointed toward the first base. Otherwise, it will be considered as a balk when thrown for a pickoff.
The Yankees kept their offense as mighty as usual along with the consistent pitching and beat the Angels in the first game of double-header by 6 – 1. Ohtani’s outing did not go as he expected as his ERA has reached 3.99 (up from 2.88) along with his 4th loss of the season. The offense from the Angels was quiet too as Cortes sailed through 7 scoreless innings with 7 strikeouts. Hopefully, he can come back strong in next outing.