Published On: Wed, Apr 18th, 2018

How the Red Sox spit on Ohtani's splitter and chased him early

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Almost 100 years after trading away Babe Ruth, the Boston Red Sox got their revenge on the second coming.

Facing Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday, the Red Sox deployed a patient approach at the plate that helped chase the right-hander after just two innings.

Ohtani entered the game against the American League East division leaders coming off two impressive performances on the mound against the Oakland Athletics in which he allowed three runs off four hits over 13 innings. But Oakland’s offense is nothing like Boston’s, and Ohtani battled his command and struggled attacking Red Sox hitters.

Despite limited video on Ohtani and no batters having ever faced him, the Red Sox entered with a clear game plan and here’s how they took the Japanese hurler’s most effective pitch away:

First inning

Boston’s approach was apparent from the get go and it immediately paid off.

Ohtani entered the night getting whiffs on 70.3 percent of swings against his splitter, but the Red Sox refused to swing at any of the six splitters he threw in the first inning, taking each for balls, according to David Adler of MLB.com.

With a 1-2 count, Mookie Betts eventually worked it full after taking back-to-back splitters low and away for a ball. He’d foul a 97-mph fastball off and then deposit another 97-mph fastball into the seats for a solo home run to lead off the game. Boston would only plate one run in the opening frame but did force Ohtani to throw 28 pitches.

Batter Pitches Result Score
Mookie Betts 7 HR 1-0 BOS
Andrew Benintendi 6 Ground out 1-0 BOS
Hanley Ramirez 5 Single 1-0 BOS
J.D. Martinez 6 Strikeout 1-0 BOS
Rafael Devers 4 Pop out 1-0 BOS

Second inning

In the second inning, Ohtani continued to struggle with controlling his secondary pitches and the Red Sox refused to help him out. He threw seven splitters in the frame and managed just two swings – both coming during Betts’ second at-bat in which he fouled the two offerings off.

Batter Pitches Result Score
Eduardo Nunez 3 Line out 1-0 BOS
Jackie Bradley Jr. 3 Single 1-0 BOS
Christian Vazquez 7 Walk 1-0 BOS
Brock Holt 4 Single 2-0 BOS
Mookie Betts 9 Walk 2-0 BOS
Andrew Benintendi 5 Sac fly 3-0 BOS
Hanley Ramirez 7 Ground out 3-0 BOS

The Red Sox would plate two runs in the inning on 38 pitches, elevating Ohtani’s pitch count to 66 – opposing starter David Price didn’t throw his 66th pitch until recording the final out of the fourth inning. In total, Ohtani only managed three swings and misses – all in the first inning – against the disciplined Red Sox hitters.


(Courtesy: Baseball Savant)

Ohtani wouldn’t return for the third and it was revealed that he had been pulled due to a blister on his pitching hand. The Red Sox would pile up the runs after he exited, pounding reliever Luke Bard for five runs in the third.



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