With Mike Trout still on the mend from a Grade 2 calf strain, the Los Angeles Angels had just two representatives in the 2021 MLB All-Star Game. The first was Shohei Ohtani, who made history by being the first player to be selected as a pitcher and hitter for the Midsummer Classic. He batted leadoff and was the starter for the AL. The other was Jared Walsh, who got to show off a unique skillset from the reserves.
With the NL playing host at Coors Field, it was Ohtani who started the game at the plate against one of the most dominant pitchers of this generation in Max Scherzer. The Washington Nationals ace won the battle, getting Ohtani to ground out hard to the middle of the infield.
Then, Ohtani took the mound, and showed exactly what makes him so incredible. He turned up the heat, hitting 100.2 mph on a fastball to Nolan Arenado as a part of a 1-2-3 first inning. Ohtani spoke about his mindset behind throwing his absolute hardest, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“I was only going one inning, so I didn’t have to think about going further into the game,” Ohtani said through his interpreter “Just let it rip.”
Arenado certainly took note of the three-digit fastball that got thrown his way, and he felt Ohtani lived up to every expectation throughout the week.
“Of course he did,” Arenado said with a chuckle. “He’s as good as advertised. … He’s incredible.”
Ohtani’s night ended after one inning of pitching and two at-bats, both hard groundouts. However, the AL held a 1-0 lead before he was removed, meaning he was in line for a victory. In the seventh inning, Walsh made his entrance at the plate. He did not record a hit on the night, but did something far more memorable.
In the top of the eighth, Walsh was placed in left field, a position he’s never played in the majors. He quickly turned in one of the best plays of the night, making a difficult sliding catch to rob Kris Bryant of a multi-RBI hit. He joked about the play afterwards, hoping no one would tell Joe Maddon.
“I hope Joe Maddon wasn’t watching,” Walsh joked. “I like first base a lot more than left field.”
Maddon might make a joke or two about playing Walsh in left field, but there’s no denying his immense value at first base.
By the end, Ohtani was the winning pitcher with the AL grabbing their eighth consecutive victory by a score of 5-2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took home the coveted MVP in what was a memorable and perfect night for baseball fans around the world.
Reid Detmers and Hector Yan shine in Futures Game
Angels minor league pitchers Reid Detmers and Hector Yan got the chance to show their skills on the big stage in the MLB Futures Game, and they certainly made the most of it. The pair combined to throw four consecutive outs, allowing just one total base runner between them in the process, which was a walk by Yan.