It sure was clever in “The Natural” when Roy Hobbs belted the ball into the stadium clock, smashing it. An ideal moment in a fantastic story.
Shohei Ohtani has been making the fanciful seem real.
With the bases loaded within the eighth inning of his Angels’ game in Boston on Thursday, he smacked the ball off Fenway Park’s manual scoreboard, dislodging certainly one of the numbers there.
The scoreboard had a 17 posted to point the present Angels pitcher, Ohtani. When his drive hit the board with force, the opposite numbers stayed in place, but 17, as if by forethought, dropped. Ohtani had made an impact on Fenway Park that just about crossed into the cinematic.
A fast play by outfielder Alex Verdugo, together with the clogged basepaths, limited the eye-opening smash to a single.
The 2022 M.L.B. Season
A season that was unsure is suddenly in full gear.
(Ohtani had one other bizarrely long single earlier in the sport when his deep fly ball was lost within the sun and fell for successful. The runner on first had delayed to see if it might be caught.)
Ohtani’s batting line ended up 2 for 4 with a run and an R.B.I. in an 8-0 victory. And yes, because the scoreboard indicated, he was also the starting pitcher and was greater than a little bit useful in that role. In his first profession start at Fenway, he gave up six hits and no runs in seven innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks.
“I used to be looking forward to pitching here,” he told reporters through an interpreter. To the Red Sox that feeling can have been foreboding.
Ohtani, who won the American League’s Most Useful Player Award last 12 months due to his two-way brilliance, is off to a little bit of a slow start within the season’s first 26 games. He’s hitting .240 with 4 home runs (he had 46 last season). On the mound he has been stronger, with a 3-2 record that shortchanges his 3.08 E.R.A. and the indisputable fact that he has allowed only one.03 walks and hits per inning pitched.
Just a few humdrum early stats has hardly taken away from the wow factor. Since he has been doing it for a 12 months, fans might still must sometimes remind themselves of the remarkable fact: Shohei Ohtani is a starting pitcher who bats for himself and is his team’s designated hitter on the times he doesn’t pitch.
That has given him a string of superlatives that always include the road “first since Babe Ruth.” (And it happens that Ruth did loads of his pitching at Fenway, when he was a member of the Red Sox.)
“I hope we don’t start taking that as a right prefer it’s old hat,” Angels Manager Joe Maddon said after the sport. “It’s just so unusual. It’s otherworldly on this level; of this game, which is I feel essentially the most difficult game.”
And Angels fans can be more focused on another numbers: Despite the presence of the consensus best player in baseball, Mike Trout, the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014. But with the second best record within the American League, the team looks set to interrupt that slide.
Leaving the open query: What is going to Ohtani possibly do within the playoffs?
Only for reference, Roy Hobbs — who wowed onlookers earlier within the film with his pitching ability by striking out a fictionalized version of Ruth — finished his memorable season by smashing the stadium lights with a house run. It almost seems possible.