International two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani has already exceeded expectations in a lot of ways. But alas, he reminded us he’s only human.
It had to happen eventually. On Tuesday night, Shohei Ohtani finally played a less-than-stellar baseball game. Which is putting it kindly. The Boston Red Sox got the better of him, forcing an early exit for the Japanese pitcher and eventually routing the Los Angeles Angels 10-1.
The 23-year-old right-hander went two innings, giving up three earned runs on four hits, two walks and just one strikeout. The highly potent Red Sox offense worked Ohtani hard, making him throw an uneconomical 66 pitches in those two innings.
His command just wasn’t as sharp as it was in his previous two starts. His off-speed pitches have garnered widespread attention, and rightfully so. If you’ve seen him throw those pitches, you understand the hype. But to use them effectively, they have to be at least appear close to the strike zone. That wasn’t the case Tuesday night. The Red Sox lineup got to a point where they knew they could simply lay off the off-speed pitches and take a ball.
Ohtani started the night by giving up a solo home run to Boston leadoff man Mookie Betts. With a full count, he was sitting fastball. And he got one. Betts drove it 411 feet into left center field. It was his first of three homers on the night. Though, only the first came off Ohtani.
Is this a reason to panic? Absolutely not. Shohei Ohtani is a rookie. And not only that, he’s had no seasoning in MLB’s minor league system. He jumped straight from Japan into spring training and then into the big leagues. There’s going to be some rough spots and struggles from time to time. And let’s also not forget, Boston is by far the hottest team in baseball right now. They’re 14-2 on the season and hitting anything and everything at the moment. If it had been Clayton Kershaw who had a rough outing against this Red Sox club, I wouldn’t have been all that surprised.
On the season, Ohtani is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA, recording 19 strikeouts over the course of 15 innings pitched. Hardly anything to be worried about. He might make minor mechanical changes as the season goes along. Don’t read too much into one bad start. Every pitcher has them. But unlike every other pitcher, Ohtani is hitting home runs and triples when he’s not on the bump.