Shohei Ohtani won his major league pitching debut, throwing three-hit ball over six innings on Sunday and leading the Los Angeles Angels past the Oakland Athletics, 7-4.
Ohtani, a two-way star from Japan, took the mound three days after he was the designated hitter in the season opener. Reaching the upper 90’s with his fastball and showing a nifty splitter, Ohtani struck out six and retired 14 of his final 15 batters.
“Personally, I feel like I got off to a good start, and obviously the team went 3-1 on the first road trip, so I’m very happy with the results,” Ohtani said through an interpreter.
He did not hit on Sunday. Albert Pujols was the D.H. and went 0 for 5.
Ohtani, a 23-year-old right-hander, pounded his glove after a 1-2-3 shutdown fifth. He walked one, and the only damage against him came on Matt Chapman’s three-run homer in the second.
Ohtani briefly removed his cap and looked to the sky after the drive, then went back to work and blanked the A’s the rest of the way.
He received ample support from the Los Angeles lineup.
Mike Trout hit a tying double in the fifth, and Justin Upton followed with a go-ahead sacrifice fly. The Angels added insurance in the seventh, getting Andrelton Simmons’s two-run single and an R.B.I. single from Kole Calhoun.
Ohtani began the game with four straight outs — including three strikeouts — before allowing consecutive singles to Matt Joyce and Stephen Piscotty that set up Chapman’s first home run of 2018.
“He used everything,” Scioscia said. “Outside of maybe one stretch of three hitters in the second inning, that’s about as well as you could pitch.” He added: “Shohei has shown great poise in everything he’s done — the way he’s practiced, the adjustments he’s made at the plate when he’s swinging the bat. I think that’s going to be one of his strengths moving on.”
The Angels staked Ohtani to a quick 2-0 lead on back-to-back doubles by Luis Valbuena and in the second against Daniel Gossett (0-1).
Cheers of “Ohtani!” greeted the pitcher as he prepared to throw his first pitch, a 96-mile-an-hour fastball to Marcus Semien that was called a strike. Ohtani fanned the leadoff man on four pitches and got through the first on 13 pitches, nine for strikes.
In all, Ohtani threw 92 pitches, 63 of them strikes.
Piscotty’s R.B.I. single in the ninth chased Blake Parker. Kenyan Middleton entered to close it out for his first save.
The Angels are off to their first 3-1 start since a 100-win season in 2008.
Gossett’s day was done after four innings and 66 pitches. He allowed four runs and walked two.
Ohtani became the first player since Babe Ruth for the Boston Red Sox in 1919 to start on opening day in a nonpitching role, then also start on the mound in the initial 10 games.
After seeing Ohtani on Sunday, the A’s on Monday will face 44-year-old Bartolo Colon, who will start for Texas against his old team in the 529th start of his career — and in his 21st season.