Red Sox fans got to witness a vintage performance from Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani on Thursday at Fenway Park, and Boston starter Rich Hill is among those who hopes fans are not taking it granted.
Ohtani opposed Hill and the Red Sox while striking out 11 batters and recording two hits of his own in LA’s 8-0 series-clinching victory.
“I mean, he’s the best player in the league. I think that’s one thing everybody can pretty much unanimously agree upon,” Hill said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “And that’s pretty special seeing somebody like that come along and I think everybody should be really appreciating what we’re seeing. It’s something that we haven’t seen in 100 years and it’s something we may not see again for another 100 years.
“He’s obviously an incredible talent,” Hill continued. “He threw the ball great today for his first start, I believe, here at Fenway and obviously hit the ball well, too.”
Hill’s notion of fans appreciating the talent was echoed by Angels manager Joe Maddon after what could prove to be Ohtani’s best pitching performance of the season.
“It’s just so unusual. It’s otherworldly on this level, of this game, which I think is the most difficult game,” Maddon said, as seen on the NESN postgame coverage. “Velocity, slider, curveball, split. How about his command? I think it was like four two-ball counts and maybe one three-ball count all day? And that’s against a very patient, good hitting lineup. And of course that one ball almost curved enough to go into the bullpen.
“I could keep going on and on,” Maddon added. “I just hope that people understand how unusual it is what you’re see and please never take it for granted.”
Here are more notes from Red Sox-Angels:
— Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about the mindset after Boston came up short of another series win. The Red Sox have won just one series this season (Detroit Tigers) in mid-April.
“It’s hard because, I mean, if you look at it you can start ‘This game, that play, this,’ but still we’re not cashing in. So it really doesn’t matter, right?” Cora said, as seen on NESN. “I can walk you through the series and tell you ‘That pitch or this play or whatever,’ but at the end you have to be able to put a complete game together and we haven’t been able to do that in a while.”
— Hill acknowledged that while it’s tough to not think about the hole Boston is digging for itself, the reality is that the Red Sox need to remember its a marathon and not a sprint.
“The fact is the only way we’re going to get back to where we need to be is even taking it at a smaller step than one game at a time, is one pitch at a time, or one swing at a time,” Hill said. “And being able to make things small and now so big.”
— Hill himself did put together an impressive start. He threw a scoreless five innings on 68 pitches (40 strikes) with six strikeouts and one hit allowed.
“He knows how to pitch. It seems like he’s always working ahead and he’s able to expand, but he’s not afraid to come back to the strike zone,” Cora said. “And that why he is where he is. He’s a veteran, but he’s a solid started at this level;. And so far he’s done an outstanding job.”
— The Red Sox return to Fenway Park on Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET to host the Chicago White Sox in the first game of the three-game set. Red Sox coverage will return to NESN on Saturday with first pitch against Chicago set for 4 p.m. ET following an hour of pregame.