Shohei Ohtani put together the worst outing of his career last week against the New York Yankees. He was charged for seven earned runs in just 0.2 innings pitched. Because of that, he knew he needed a different approach in the Los Angeles Angels’ series-tying game against the Boston Red Sox.
On Tuesday against the American League’s best team, Ohtani looked like a different pitcher than we’re used to seeing. He didn’t rack up strikeout totals, but he also didn’t walk a single batter. Instead, he allowed just two earned runs on five hits over 7.0 innings pitched, while striking out just four. He became a pure pitch-to-contact starter, completely shifting his style as the game demanded.
Perhaps one thing that helped him get back into a rhythm was being on the mound at Angel Stadium, where he holds a 1.87 ERA in eight starts, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I felt like I had good rhythm and good mechanics compared to my last outing,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I’m really used to the Angel Stadium mound. It’s easy for me to keep my mechanics fairly steady. The road mounds are a little different in every ballpark, so it’s an adjustment I need to make.”
Angels manager Joe Maddon made an adjustment of his own, having Max Stassi catch Ohtani for just the second time this season. Ohtani had grown accustomed to Kurt Suzuki, but Maddon was well within his rights to make this necessary switch.
“They did very well together,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “Their creativity was outstanding. And like I said [pregame], I thought Stassi matched up well offensively with [Nathan] Eovaldi. It worked out pretty good and they had a nice little first dance.”
Stassi not only put together a solid game as Ohtani’s catcher, he also hit the ball extraordinarily well. He went 3-for-4 with a home run, double, and single, going a triple shy of the cycle.
In the short time that he’s been a Major League pitcher, Ohtani has never been in a slump for too long. He broke away from his last performance with an incredible one against the Red Sox. And even though it wasn’t his best day at the plate, he still went 1-for-4 with an RBI double in the opening frame.
Alex Cora likens Ohtani to Barry Bonds
After Monday’s game in which Ohtani batted only, Red Sox manager Alex Cora had immense praise for the two-way star. He compared the hype and the way teams have to pitch to him to what it was like when Barry Bonds was at his peak. Ohtani put up a whopping 1.385 OPS between June 5 and July 5.