History for Ohtani: 10-K start to leading off

May 13th, 2021

After he wowed the baseball world Tuesday night, two-way star Shohei Ohtani made history Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. Ohtani became the first player since 1916 to start a game as a pitcher and lead off as a hitter in the following game, per Elias Sports Bureau.

Ohtani was the Angels’ designated hitter from the leadoff spot in the rubber match against Houston. The 26-year-old was hitting .265 in 33 games with 26 RBIs, the second most among Angels hitters, entering Wednesday's game.

He’s primarily hit out of the second spot this season, where he’s fallen into a groove of steady run production and getting on base to keep the line moving for the hitters behind him.

Ohtani is coming off one of the best starts of his career after he pitched seven innings and struck 10 hitters as he allowed one run on four hits. His night as a hitter continued for the Angels as he transitioned from the mound to right field to record one more at-bat in his career night.

Starters get a rest

When the Angels face the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Friday, they’ll be embarking on a stretch of 19 games in 19 days. Therefore, manager Joe Maddon is taking advantage of Thursday’s scheduled off-day to give players much-needed rest.

Mike Trout, Justin Upon and David Fletcher were not in the Angels’ lineup for the rubber game at Minute Maid Park. Maddon said he believes consecutive days off for regular players is beneficial.

"Carl Crawford is the guy that taught me to do this several years ago, always responded well, so I thought it was the right thing to do today,” Maddon said. “It was almost like a day game, getaway day going into Boston with the off-day. I just thought, 'Let's get these guys really well rested up.’”

In his last seven games, Trout has a .143 average (3-for-21), with nine strikeouts. The day off may benefit Trout even more stats-wise as he’s hitting .212 in his career in Houston, the lowest batting average for him in an American League Park.

Upton has been struggling, as well. He has two hits -- both home runs -- in his last 19 at-bats for a batting average of .105. Fletcher, on the other hand, has been the most consistent hitter of the three with a .250 batting average over his last seven games.

The Angels have relied heavily on the core group of Trout, Upton, Fletcher, plus Ohtani. But with three of those key players of the lineup, it gives role players like Juan Lagares and Phil Gosselin a chance to showcase their talent.

“I have a lot of confidence in the lineup going out there tonight,” Maddon said. “You're going to see some fresh bodies.”

Starting rotation set against Boston

The Angels will roll out two right-handed pitchers against the Red Sox for the first games of the series. Griffin Canning (3-2) is scheduled to start Friday and Dylan Bundy (0-4) will take the bump Saturday. Left-hander José Quintana (0-3) will wrap up the series Sunday.