Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani finally showed the major leagues what he’s capable of as the Athletics fell to the Los Angeles Angels, 7-4, on Sunday.
In the six innings that he pitched, he finished with 63 strikes as his throws peaked at 99.6 miles per hour. One batter walked and another six struck out.
“Personally, I feel like I got off to a good start,” he said. “And obviously the team went 3-1 on the first road trip, so I’m happy with the results.”
In 92 throws, the 23-year-old showcased all these tricks, from sliders, fast balls, curve balls and split-fingers which threw off the rhythm of the Athletic players at bat.
In the first inning, he was particularly impressive after striking out nine players, including Matt Olson and Marcus Semien. That wasn’t surprising considering that it was the first time the A’s faced the Japanese star. In the second inning, the Athletics adjusted and hit his pitches three times in succession.
His Spring Training wasn’t as remarkable when he finished with just a 27.00 ERA in two games. Ohtani didn’t throw over 85 pitches in the Cactus games. He was appointed designated hitter and was below average at best.
A’s third baseman Matt Champman said that they wanted to attack Ohtani immediately after they saw some of their teammates dropping out left and right in the first inning.
“He looked like he was throwing strikes right away, so we were trying to jump on the first pitch we saw because we knew he has a lot of good stuff to put people away,” the 24-year-old said. “Unfortunately we weren’t able to do that too much today. He had some good stuff.”
A’s manager Bob Melvin said the players were trying to give some tips to each other as they try to study Ohtani’s tendencies on the mound. He said the more they see of Ohtani in the tapes, the more they can better prepare for him.
“He looks to be the real deal,” he added.