Ohtani Shohei’s WBC debut match was close to perfect.
Ohtani started as a starting pitcher and third batter in the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) 1st round Group B match against China held at Tokyo Dome, Japan on the 9th. As a pitcher, he came down the mound with 49 pitches in 4 innings, 1 hit, 5 strikeouts, no runs. And he exploded to a two-run double at the plate.
It was Ohtani’s WBC debut match, which doubles as a cartoon. Ohtani posted a 2.33 ERA with 219 strikeouts in 28 games, 166 innings, with 219 strikeouts as a pitcher in the major leagues last year. He has been reborn as a complete pitcher. As a hitter, he posted a batting average of 2.7, 3, 160 hits, 34 home runs, and 95 RBIs in 157 games, with an OPS of .875. He became the best player on the ground by double-tapping for two consecutive years. Ohtani, who was absent from the 2017 WBC due to an ankle injury, is the first WBC.
Coach Hideki Kuriyama said, “There is no player like Ohtani as the starting pitcher for the opening game. Ohtani is a reliable player,” he said, adding that he came up with Ohtani to symbolize his first match. It may be regrettable to consume Ohtani because it is China, which is considered the weakest in Group B, but the symbolic meaning could not be ignored.
And, raising the heat of the Tokyo Dome even more, Ohtani finished his appearance on the day. In the first inning, Ohtani threw a fastball of 157km from the leadoff hitter’s first pitch, striking out first batter Liang Fei, Yangjin a shortstop grounder, and Yusuke Masago a third baseman grounder.
In the second inning, after cooking Chen Chen with a ground ball to the first baseman, he struck out Lei Chang. When facing Ray Chang, he even threw a 160km fastball. Tokyo Dome burst into cheers. And Cao Jie also struck out and continued his perfect streak.
In the 3rd inning, Kou Yongkang caught a shortstop ground ball and Luo Junjun caught a midfielder floating ball. It was an ambiguous batted ball that fell between center fielder and second baseman, but an outcount was added with center fielder Lars Nuthba’s big hit. Ohtani opened his arms and thanked Nut Ba. And he cooked Wang Xiang with a second baseman ground ball. 스포츠토토
Liang Fei, the first batsman who met after the batting order turned around, treated it as a catcher ground ball. Ohtani covered 160km again against Yangjin. However, a 159km fastball led to a left-handed hit, breaking Ohtani’s perfect streak.
Ohtani regained his focus and threw all his sliders at Yusuke Masago, striking out on a swing. And against Chen Chen, he struck out looking with a breaking ball.
Even in the midst of Ohtani’s perfect pitch, the batting line was frustrating. However, it was Ohtani who pierced this blood. In the 4th inning, leading 1-0, Japan ran away with 3-0, scoring a double with 2 RBIs that hit the top of the wall in the middle left with 1 company, 1st and 3rd base.
Japan did not overdo it. He lowered Ohtani and passed the ball to Shōsei Togo from the 5th inning. And Togo finished the 5th with 3 strikeouts.