Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani expressed how he was looking forward to his mound debut at Fenway Park, and the right-hander certainly made the most of his appearance in a 8-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox on Thursday.
“It’s one of my favorite ballparks,” Ohtani said after the win, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “I was looking forward to pitching here and it left a really good impression on me.”
And for good reason.
Ohtani put together his best start of the season (five starts). He handcuffed the Red Sox batting order while recording 11 strikeouts in a scoreless seven innings of work. The 27-year-old phenom threw 81 of his 99 pitches for strikes without allowing a walk.
“I think it was definitely better than my last one,” Ohtani said about his pitching performance, referencing a five-inning start in which he allowed two runs against the Cleveland Indians.
Ohtani’s mound debut was a bit up in the air due to a groin injury. He was scheduled to take the mound Tuesday, which proved to be Boston’s lone win of the three-game set, but was pushed back two days.
Angels manager Joe Maddon hinted that Ohtani knew what was at stake in the contest despite the calendar still indicating May.
“He knows what he’s doing out there. I’m sure he’s going to say how much he loved the idea and wanted to pitch at Fenway,” Maddon said, as seen on NESN. “That fact that if we won today we win the series, and win the road trip — he calculates all that stuff. He’s a very unselfish player. He knows when he performs the team has a better chance to win both when he pitches and on offense. That’s just how he thinks. So give him credit, that was pretty special today.”
To go along with his debut on the mound, the two-way star was one of three LA players to record multiple hits (2-for-4) while his eighth-inning RBI single off the Green Monster helped the Angels pull away with five runs in the frame.
Ohtani’s talent is something that Red Sox starting pitcher Rich Hill and Maddon don’t want fans to overlook.