Somehow, Shohei Ohtani continues to not only live up to the hype, but exceed it.
Ohtani made his Angel Stadium pitching debut on Sunday — and he was nearly perfect. In just his second career MLB start, Ohtani carried a perfect game into the seventh inning against the A’s, before Marcus Semien finally broke up the bid with a one-out single.
That was the only hit Ohtani allowed in his seven brilliant innings. He struck out 12, leading the Angels to a 6-1 win. With Angel Stadium packed with 44,742 fans, Ohtani delivered everything the fans could have imagined, and more.
The two-way phenom has been amazing both at the plate and on the mound. With another page written in a storybook start to his big league career, MLB.com is breaking down all the key facts and figures to emerge from Ohtani’s first start in Anaheim.
• Before Ohtani, only two other pitchers in Major League history had thrown at least seven innings, allowed one or fewer hits and struck out at least 12 batters within their first two career pitching games. Steve Woodard did it for the Brewers on July 28, 1997, and the legendary Juan Marichal did it for the Giants on July 19, 1960.
• Ohtani’s 12 strikeouts also tied the American League record for a pitcher in one of his first two career games on the mound. Woodard was the last to do it. Before him was another Angel: Tim Fortugno on July 25, 1992. The only other? Elmer Myers for the Philadelphia Athletics all the way back on Oct. 6, 1915.
• Ohtani is the 14th Major Leaguer to strike out at least 12 batters in one of his first two career starts. The most recent before him was Stephen Strasburg, who struck out 14 in his MLB debut for the Nationals on June 8, 2012.
• Ohtani’s Game Score of 90 on Sunday is tied for the seventh-highest Game Score for a pitcher making his second Major League start. Only George Baumgardner (101 on April 20, 1912), Dick Selma (96 on Sept. 12, 1965), Marichal (96 on July 19, 1960), Karl Spooner (93 on Sept. 22, 1954), Clay Buchholz (93 on Sept. 1, 2007) and Woodard (91 on July 28, 1997) had higher Game Scores in their second career start.
• Ohtani’s 18 strikeouts in his two starts this season tied the Angels record for the most within a pitcher’s first two career appearances. Fortugno also notched 18 K’s through his first two games.
• Along with Fortugno in 1992 and Jorge Rubio in ’66, Ohtani is now the third Angels rookie in franchise history with 12 or more strikeouts in a game.
• Ohtani retired the final eight A’s batters he faced in his Major League pitching debut on April 1 at the Oakland Coliseum. Combined with the 19 straight Oakland batters he retired on Sunday before giving up a single to Semien, Ohtani retired 27 A’s in succession spanning the two starts.
• Hitters have now whiffed on 26 of their 37 swings against Ohtani’s splitter across his two outings. That 70.3 percent whiff rate is the highest for any MLB starting pitcher on a single pitch type this season (minimum 20 swings against that pitch).
• Ohtani’s 25 total whiffs on Sunday came on just 44 swings by the A’s — a whiff-per-swing rate of 56.8 percent. Since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015, only three other starting pitchers have recorded a higher whiff rate in an outing (minimum 20 total swings against them in the game). Those three:
Corey Kluber — 64.9 percent on June 1, 2017
Danny Duffy — 59.3 percent on Aug. 1, 2016
Francisco Liriano — 57.8 percent on July 23, 2015
• Ohtani’s dazzling game on the mound Sunday capped a jaw-dropping week in which he also homered in three straight games as a hitter. The combination makes him just the third player all-time to homer in three consecutive games as a hitter and have a double-digit strikeout game as a pitcher in the same season. The others: Ken Brett in 1973 and — who else? — Babe Ruth in ’16.
• Ohtani has picked up the win in both of his first two starts. It’s been nearly 100 years since a player had at least two wins as a pitcher and at least three home runs as a hitter within his team’s first 10 games of a season. The last to do so: Jim Shaw for the Washington Senators in 1919. (Shaw’s home runs all came in games he pitched, while Ohtani’s hitting and pitching performances have been separate.)
• Ohtani became only the sixth player in Major League history to hit three home runs in his first four games when he homered off Oakland’s Daniel Gossett in the second inning of the Angels’ 13-9 victory last Friday. He joined Trevor Story (four homers in first four games in 2016), Trey Mancini (three in ’16), Yoenis Cespedes (three in ’12), Trent Oeltjen (three in ’09) and Mike Jacobs (three in ’05).
• As a batter, Ohtani leads all Major Leaguers who have had at least 10 batted balls this season in hard-hit rate: 71.4 percent of his batted balls (10 of 14) have had an exit velocity of at least 95 mph.
By contrast, the batters who put the ball in play so far this season while Ohtani has been on the mound have a hard-hit rate of 20 percent (five hard-hit balls out of 25 batted balls overall). Only one of them came in Sunday’s game — Semien’s single, with an exit velocity of 101.1 mph.
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