Ohtani flirts with perfecto in sensational home pitching debut
Los Angeles Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani flirted with history Sunday at Angel Stadium, retiring the first 19 batters he faced in his home pitching debut before losing his perfect-game bid on a Marcus Semien single with one out in the top of the seventh inning.
Through six innings against the Oakland Athletics, Ohtani scarcely allowed any contact, notching 11 strikeouts - he fanned the side in order in the first - while generating 22 swinging strikes with 75 pitches. Relying mostly on his four-seamer, which topped out at 100 miles per hour, and his splitter, Ohtani only allowed five balls in play through six frames, and none had an exit velocity above 89.4 mph.
Then, in the top of the seventh, Ohtani got Matt Joyce to line out softly to shortstop to lead off the frame before Semien ripped a sharp single into left field, ending Ohtani's bid to become just the second pitcher in Angels history to throw a perfect game.
After Semien reached, Ohtani - staked to a 6-0 lead - immediately walked Jed Lowrie on four pitches, prompting a visit from his pitching coach, but the 23-year-old quickly bounced back, getting Khris Davis to ground out to the mound before fanning Matt Olson.
In the eighth, manager Mike Scioscia replaced Ohtani with right-hander Blake Wood. Ohtani finished his first career start in Anaheim with the highest Game Score (90) by an Angels pitcher since Dan Haren tossed a 14-strikeout, complete-game shutout against the Seattle Mariners on May 24, 2012.
Last weekend, in his first-ever big-league start, Ohtani surrendered three earned runs and recorded six strikeouts over six innings at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. Through two starts, he owns a 2.08 ERA with a 0.46 WHIP and 9-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Ohtani also homered in his three starts at designated hitter this week, but wasn't allowed to hit for himself Sunday. Instead, Albert Pujols got the start at DH.
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