Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Phenom Ohtani dazzles with his bat and arm for Angels



Phenom Ohtani dazzles with his bat and arm for Angels

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels gets a high five from teammate Ryan Schimpf after completing the seventh inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on Sunday in Anaheim, California. Getty Images/AFP
Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels gets a high five from teammate Ryan Schimpf after completing the seventh inning of the game against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium on Sunday in Anaheim, California. Getty Images/AFP

Phenom Ohtani dazzles with his bat and arm for Angels

Shohei Ohtani flirted with a perfect game in his home pitching debut on Sunday, retiring the first 19 batters to power the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-1 rout of the Oakland Athletics.

The two-way Japanese sensation is exceeding expectations with his fairytale season as he struck out 12 batters and allowed just one hit over seven shutout innings at Angels Stadium.

Marcus Semien singled to left field to break up the bid for a perfect game, but the 23-year-old rookie kept his cool and hung in there to eventually get the side out and end the inning in front of a crowd of 44,700.

“Especially with how my spring training went, I wasn’t really imagining [the start of the season] to be this good, to be honest,” Ohtani said through a translator.

“I feel better every day. I feel like I’m getting used to everything more and more each day. But it’s just the first week.”

The highly sought after offseason free agent is living up to the Ruthian hype.

Ohtani joined Babe Ruth in the record books, becoming just the third player in league history to hit a home run in three straight games and post a double-digit strikeout game in the same season.

The first to do it was Ruth in 1916 and the other Ken Brett in 1973.

He is also the first major leaguer to record two wins and three home runs in his first 10 games since Jim Shaw in 1919.

Ohtani had performed poorly in spring training, but if there was any doubt he could hit and pitch at the major league level then it was erased this week.

Ohtani blasted three homers between his pitching debut last weekend and his first win at Angel Stadium on Sunday.

He started quickly on Sunday, striking out the side in the first inning on just 15 pitches. He struck out the side again in the fifth inning as only one A’s batter managed to avoid being a strike out victim on the night.

“That’s as good a game as you are going to ever see pitched,” said Angels manager Mike Scioscia.

After yielding the lone hit he eventually struck out Matt Olson to end the seventh inning and celebrated with a scream and a fist pump.

“I wanted to keep a clean zero on the board,” Ohtani said. “One hit would [mean] two runs, and it’s a huge difference. I wanted that strikeout, and I got it.”

Ohtani, who played with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters last season, said this would have been his first no-hitter. Asked how he compares this outing to previous ones he said, “probably my best outing was when I was in elementary school”.

In his pitching debut last Sunday, he allowed three runs on a second-inning homer by third baseman Matt Chapman, but that was his only blemish in the 7-4 victory.

Home run hero

Since then, Ohtani moved to designated hitter for games on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and homered in all three in dramatic fashion.

His three-run blast in his first at-bat in front of the Angels Stadium home crowd lifted Los Angeles to a 6-2 lead against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday, and they eventually won 13-2.

The next day, he hit a game-tying two-run homer off two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber in the fifth inning, and the Angels went on to win 3-2 in 13 innings.

After an off day on Thursday, Ohtani belted a 449-foot solo home run to centre field with two outs in the second inning and Los Angeles rallied from a huge deficit to win 12-9.

Angels third baseman Zack Cozart said Ohtani also has a variety of pitching weapons.

“His splitter just kind of drops off the table,” Cozart said. “It looks like a strike I feel like almost every time, but it never is. It just drops below the zone. That’s how it comes out, the same as his fastball. It makes it tough as a hitter.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Locations shut, dozens more Covid-19 positive

    The Ministry of Health has closed 23 locations in connection with the February 20 community transmission of Covid-19 and summoned for testing anyone who had direct contact with affected people and places. The number of discovered related infections has risen to 76, including 39 women. In a press release,

  • Kingdom's Covid cluster cases jump to 194

    The Ministry of Health on February 25 confirmed 65 new cases of Covid-19, with 58 linked to the February 20 community transmission. The latest cluster cases include nine Vietnamese nationals, five Cambodians, one each from Korea, Singapore and Japan, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total number

  • Cambodia's Covid cluster cases rise to 137

    The Ministry of Health on February 24 recorded 40 more cases of Covid-19, with 38 linked to the February 20 community transmission. Of the 40, two are imported cases involving Chinese passengers. The 38 include two Vietnamese nationals and one Cambodian, with the rest being Chinese. This brings the total cases

  • Covid cluster raises alarm, health bodies urge vigilance

    The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia have expressed great concern over the February 20 cluster transmission of Covid-19 in the community. Both entities appealed for vigilance and cooperation in curbing further spread of the virus. Ministry spokeswoman Or Vandine said

  • PM confirms third Covid-19 community transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 20 announced the Kingdom's third outbreak of Covid-19 community transmission after 32 people tested positive in just over 10 hours. Addressing the public from his residence after an emergency meeting, Hun Sen said: "I dub it February 20 Community Event, in which 32 cases

  • Cambodia to make auto-rickshaws

    Locally-assembled electric auto-rickshaws could hit the Cambodian market as soon as early in May after the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) gave the greenlight to an investment project at the weekend. According to a CDC press release, it will issue a final registration