With both teams well out of the playoff picture, there was only a modest crowd on hand for the contest. Among those in attendance was former big league pitcher CC Sabathia, who spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Indians.
The six-time All-Star was in town to accept the honor of having a local baseball field named after him. After the ceremony, he headed to Progressive Field to not only watch his former team in action, but also to see Shohei Ohtani in person.
Sabathia offered high praise for the two-way star and deemed himself one of Ohtani’s biggest fans, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“When I saw that dude play for the first time, I said he was the greatest player I’d ever seen,” Sabathia said. “And people freaked out over that comment. But there’s nobody who does what he does at that level. It’s amazing to watch him. I watch all his starts. I live on the East Coast, so I have to set a timer to watch it, but I’m probably his biggest fan.”
The Angels and Indians will play one more game in Cleveland on Saturday before traveling to Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the annual Little League Classic.
Given his ability to hit and pitch at an high level, Sabathia believes Ohtani is the perfect player to showcase his talents in front of thousands of hopeful little leaguers:
“It’s why I love this guy,” Sabathia said. “He’s doing what every kid wants. The Little League World Series is going on and the best guy on the team is the pitcher … and he hits all the homers and is the best player. Ohtani is literally playing Little League in the Majors. I thought I could hit, but nothing like that.”
Ohtani is in the midst of a season for the ages as he entered play Saturday batting .272/.366/.644 with 25 doubles, five triples, and MLB-leading 40 home runs, 88 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 118 games.
The 27-year-old has been just as dominant on the mound, sporting an 8-1 record, 2.79 ERA, 3.19 FIP, 1.06 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 100 innings across 18 starts.
Probable pitchers for Little League Classic
When the Angels and Indians face off Sunday at Bowman Field, it will be a starting pitching battle between Jose Suarez and Cal Quantrill.
While most fans would have liked to see Ohtani pitch in the Little League Classic, he instead will make his next start against the Baltimore Orioles next week at Camden Yards.