Ohtani has been to Fenway Park several times and left a strong impression by hitting a home run over the Green Monster as well as the go-ahead two-run homer that gave the Angels the lead in the 9th inning. On May 5th, 2022, he had left another memorable impression, not as a hitter but as a starting pitcher by stepping on the mound. He was also in the lineup, batting in the top of the order like the legend Babe Ruth.
This will be his first time pitching at Fenway park as he did not get a chance to pitch here due to the rotation order last May. His first visit to Fenway was August 8, 2019, the year he underwent a Tommy John surgery as he only appeared as a hitter and went 6-for-17 during a 4-game series.
The fastball usage as gone down almost 20% this year as he had started to rely more on breaking balls. Also his splitter — a pitch known to harm pitcher’s arm — has gone down as he had started using more curveball and slider.
He has generated a higher strikeout rate per 9 innings than former Angels pitchers such as Nolan Ryan.
There are many things to factor in when it comes to a side-by-side comparison between them as the modern baseball is a lot different than what it was in terms of environments, physics, and rules. In a nutshell, Ruth excelled in batting average and ERA while Ohtani has more home runs and strike rate.
This was the part that Ohtani repeated what Ruth did back in 1919 by batting 3rd [1 of the top 4 spots] as a starting pitcher.
Ohtani had a trouble locating his pitches to where he wanted in the first inning against the Guardians in last outing, but he was off to a great start by striking out the lead-off hitter, Story with a splitter.
He also struck Devers out with a 12-6 curveball. However…
It ended up being a wild pitch as the catcher Stassi couldn’t handle it and allowed Devers reach first base. Despite being a strikeout, it does not count as an out so Ohtani had a chance to have 4 strikeouts in one inning if he had proceeded to strike out the next 2 batters. But he fell one strikeout shy of the feat.
In the second inning, Red Sox’s first baseman, Dalbec, drove a 97-mph fastball inside for the first hit of the game.
Ohtani got Bradley Jr. to a flyout to strand the runner in a scoring position.
There was a comparison between the 17-year veteran left-handed pitcher, Hill and Ohtani for fastball velocity. There is a 4 feet and 6 inch gap between them, which is almost a second difference.
The first predicament came in the third inning as Ohtani had to face the cleanup hitter, Martinez with runners on first and second after allowing consecutive singles to Devers and Bogaerts.
When runners are on second, there is a tendency for the runner to take a peek at the pitcher’s grip and secretly passes onto the hitter with a sign. Nobody knows, but Ohtani might have faked its grip to deceive the opponent by changing its grip inside the glove to hide it from the runner.
It appeared that Ohtani did change its grip after thinking about throwing a splitter as he struck out Martinez with a 98-mph fastball right down the middle to end the inning.
Ohtani faced Hill for the second time and hit a 70-mph slider.
The ball was carried all the way to the center field and when everyone thought it would be a home run…
It was a few inches short and hit Bradley Jr’s leg.
And right fielder Cordero had to retrieved it and threw it to the second. Because [Ohtani] thought it was going to be a flyout, he did not run to second base and resulted in a single.
Ohtani struck out Dalbec to retire the side in the fourth inning.
Bradley Jr. started the fifth inning with his first hit off Ohtani’s splitter.
It flew all the way to the right field.
He slid for a double and put a runner in a scoring position for the second time for Red Sox.
Next batter, catcher, Plawecki drove a splitter hard to the right field again. It seemed like they figured it out how to approach on Ohtani’s splitter. Ohtani immediately reacted it by turning back.
However, the right fielder Ward made an incredible sliding-catch to save the run.
Ohtani appreciated Ward’s catch with an applaud.
After striking out Story for the third time, Ohtani faced Devers who singled off him last at-bat.
Ohtani’s fastball reached 100 mph in which Devers fouled it off.
Ohtani then threw his splitter to get out of a jam and showed emotions.
Martinez got his first hit of the game with a double off a slider.
If Mayfield had not overthrown to the second baseman, Fletcher, it would have been an out as Martinez reached the second base a couple of steps behind when the ball passed Fletcher.
He got behind the count — 2 balls and 1 strike — for the first time against Verdugo in sixth inning, which explained how good his command had been as he had the highest strikeout-ball ratio in his start.
The runner on second can also see the signs of catcher. Therefore, Stassi was mixing several signs to make it look confusing for Martinez to discern.
With last batter at bat, Ohtani’s 99-mph fastball was hit hard as a liner towards shortstop Velazquez who made a jumping catch to prevent the run from scoring.
Ohtani was ecstatic as that play ended the sixth inning.
On top of the seventh inning, Ohtani fouled off a pitch that reflected off his ankle. Luckily, he was able to handle the pain and continue to play the game.
Next batter Rendon went through a persistent 9-pitch battle and drew a walk.
Walsh, who was a hero of last night’s game, contributed a big time again by hitting…
a long line drive off a slider from Houck with a full extension.
It was a two-run home run passed behind the yellow pole and gave the Angels the lead.
With Angel’s lead and full count with 2 outs, Ohtani has a chance to become a winning pitcher and threw 2 fastballs — 95 and 97 mph — consecutively for strikes after he fell behind the count with 3 – 0.
The last 98-mph fastball struck Story out to get his 11th strikeout of the game and he was pumped up.
Well that was not the end of Ohtani’s performance. He drove in 4th run by knocking down his number — 17 — on the manual scoreboard with a hard-hit line drive as if he was meant to do that.
Fenway Park is one of the two ballparks along with Wrigley Field that uses the manual scoreboard.
Ohtani was back on the bench when he could have gone in the back to do icing for rest. His pitch count was one pitch shy of 100 and no walks with 11 K.
He was able to relax with a huge lead as the Angels had a guaranteed win, but it wasn’t the case for the Phillies on the same day…
The final score was 8 – 0. Ohtani’s Fenway debut as a two-way player marked its first time since Ruth did the same thing a century ago.
There was another player of the game who contributed as much as Ohtani, none other than Walsh. [Walsh] said he would like to give run support earlier for starting pitchers and also commented on Ohtani’s feat as something that will not last forever as it is one of a kind.