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MLB

Babe Ruth comparisons as Ohtani shines at Fenway

Shohei Ohtani played like Babe Ruth in a sensational start against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Update:
Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels
Winslow TownsonAFP

Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon is worried baseball fans might start to take Shohei Ohtani’s “otherworldly” two-way talents for granted.

In his third start of the year against the Boston Red Sox on Friday, Ohtani struck out 11 in seven shutout innings, allowing only six hits and no walks in throwing 81 of his 99 pitches for strikes.

In the pitch-count era (since 1988, minimum 50 pitches), his 81.8 per cent strike rate is the highest by a visiting pitcher at Fenway Park. Only one Red Sox pitcher – Nathan Eovaldi (82.0 per cent) last season – has topped that mark.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (
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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (Brian FluhartyUSA TODAY Sports

For good measure, Ohtani added two hits – falling just short of a home run with a single in the fourth, before cannoning another single off the Green Monster in the eighth, knocking his number 17 out of the manual scoreboard and driving in a run. He soon scored himself, too.

That late flurry contributed to an 8-0 Angels win that maintained a game-and-a-half lead in the AL West, but the focus after the game was on Ohtani and Ohtani alone.

“I hope you don’t start taking that for granted, like it’s old hat,” Maddon said. “It’s just so unusual. It’s otherworldly on this level of this game.”

Ohtani’s start had been delayed by two days due to groin tightness, with the reigning AL MVP revealing he was “pretty fatigued”, yet it was worth the wait.

‘Fenway Park is one of my favourite ballparks’

Ohtani (Angels)

Coming at Fenway Park – “one of my favorite ballparks,” Ohtani said – there were inevitable comparisons to 1910s Red Sox legend Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest player of all time.

And Red Sox starter Rich Hill acknowledged it may now take another 100 years for anyone to match Ohtani’s feats.

Best player in the league

“He’s the best player in the league,” Hill said. “I think that’s one thing everybody can pretty much unanimously agree upon.

“It’s pretty special to see somebody like that come along. I think everybody should be really appreciating what we’re seeing, because it’s something we haven’t seen in 100 years and we may never see it again for another 100 years.”