By Morris Phillips
Years from now, the video chronicling the Major League Baseball career of Shohei Ohtani will begin with the Japanese star plowing through the Oakland A’s.
From Ohtani’s perspective, it will make for a rousing start to a multi-faceted highlight reel.
For the A’s, not so much.
Ohtani beat the A’s for the second straight Sunday–earning his first two big league wins–as he dominated from the start, retiring the first 19 batters he faced. For seven innings, Ohtani was in control, allowing just one hit with 12 strikeouts and no walks. Only Jonathon Lucroy among those in the A’s starting lineup could avoid striking out at least once.
“It didn’t look like [the A’s] had a chance up there, the way he was throwing,” Angels infielder Zack Cozart said. “They got the (one) hit, but it didn’t diminish how he pitched.”
In Oakland, Ohtani clocked in the high-90’s and became nearly unhittable when those fastballs were mixed in with the pitcher’s confounding breaking pitches. But at least he was temporarily fallible, allowing a three-run homer to Matt Chapman. In Anaheim, the 23-year old executed from the first to the seventh, allowing only Marcus Semien’s solidly struck single in the seventh.
From the A’s perspective, their offense was left wounded and in need of an ambulance. The toll in the two Ohtani starts? 55 A’s plate appearances, six batters reached, four hits, two walks and 18 struck out.
“He’s got a deliberate delivery, and it makes his fastball play even better,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “And he has a really good (splitter). The difference in speeds between his split and his fastball and when he locates his split down in the zone, it’s very tough to pick up.”
Ohtani homered in three consecutive games earlier this week, the last of which came against the A’s Friday night. So that’s three home runs and two wins in the first 10 games of Ohtani’s MLB career. No one’s accomplished that combination of feats in the first 10 games of their career since Jim Shaw did so for the Washington Senators in 1919.
The A’s fell into the AL West cellar with the loss, their fifth in seven meetings with the Angels to start the season.