Clayton Kershaw faced Shohei Ohtani for the first time -- and introduced him to his curveball
Shohei Ohtani encountered a new Spring Training challenge on Wednesday afternoon, as the Angels squared off against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. The longtime ace was his usual dominant self, pitching three shutout innings of three-hit ball, striking out two along the way.
One of the two Angels batters who went down on strikes was Ohtani, who took Kershaw to a 2-2 count before the Dodgers' ace unleashed the devastating pitch that Vin Scully once called "Public Enemy No. 1."
The Dodgers won, 4-2, and after the game, Kershaw explained his strategy to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "I fell behind him, 2-0, had two fastballs that he fouled off," he said. "So, I had to throw four straight fastballs and felt I had to throw something a little slower."
Kershaw's plan definitely worked, though the at-bat wasn't anything special to him, even though the Dodgers had tried to recruit Ohtani in the offseason. "I could care less now," Kershaw said. "He didn't pick us. Good luck to him."
Hitting Kershaw was going to be a tough task from the get-go, so at least Ohtani took it in stride and could laugh about it a little in the dugout:
"I don't know if I'll be able to hit it the next time he throws to me, but I was kind of expecting it with two strikes," Ohtani said to MLB.com's Alyson Footer. "I thought it was kind of low so I decided to take it. Next time I'll try to at least foul it off.
"It is still Spring Training, but it was somewhat of a special moment to be able to face Kershaw."
Ohtani will most likely get another crack at Kershaw down the road. The Angels have six games against the Dodgers in July, so perhaps we'll see a rematch of the two Los Angeles stars.