The Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Otani debuted at the plate several days ago but made his Major League Baseball debut as a pitcher on Sunday. While there had been some doubts about his early transition to the big leagues based on his Spring Training performance, or lack thereof, Sunday’s first start and resulting victory may have erased them. Here’s the latest on Shohei Otani’s debut on the mound from Sunday’s MLB action.
In Sunday’s game, Otani was the Angels’ starting pitcher as they took on the Athletics in Oakland. Otani had been the team’s designated hitter just three days earlier when MLB’s Opening Day took place. In the latest game, he was on the mound and ended up pitching for six innings, limiting the opposing team to just three hits. He would go on to record six strikeouts, and retired 14 of his 15 final batters, per ESPN. He also ended up recording his first career MLB victory in a 7-4 decision, giving him a 1-0 record for the start of his young career.
Otani answered media questions with the help of an interpreter after the game. He said he was happy and satisfied with today’s performance but more pleased that his team got the victory. He also spoke about how the Angels staff helped him calm down early on after giving up a three-run home run in the second inning to Matt Chapman. He said Angels skipper Mike Scioscia told him “You’re doing fine, just don’t let them score from here on out.” The A’s would end up with just one more run for the rest of the game.
With his parents watching the debut, Otani delivered on what Scioscia asked of him. Thankfully, Shohei Otani also had run support from his team. Mike Trout tied up the game in the fifth inning with a double before his teammate Justin Upton broke that tie in the next at-bat with a sacrifice fly. Later on, in the seventh inning, Andrelton Simmons and Kole Calhoun added another three runs to pad the Halos’ lead.
There had been questions surrounding the decision to keep Otani on as part of the team’s main roster when Opening Day was approaching. In Spring Training, he was just 0-1 with a 27.00 ERA in his two Cactus League games. He also appeared to have some issues at the plate during those spring games. He ended up getting a hit in his first appearance at the plate on Opening Day but would end up grounding out on the rest of his at-bats. However, he still has plenty of time to develop aspects of his game for the professional level.
With Sunday’s victory, the Los Angeles now have a 3-1 record early on in the season. In today’s game, Shohei Otani clearly made his own history by recording the first-ever win in his first-ever professional start in MLB. However, he also achieved another interesting bit of history. Otani became the first player since Babe Ruth to start as a non-pitcher for his team’s opening day game and then make a start as pitcher within his team’s first 10 games. Ruth accomplished that feat way back in 1919, giving Otani a special place in the history books.