Eventful night for Ohtani: 1st hit vs. lefty, pickoff

April 11th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- didn't get to bat against his former Nippon-Ham Fighters teammate Chris Martin on Wednesday night, but that didn't stop the two friends from having a memorable face-off in the eighth inning of the Angels' 7-2 win over the Rangers at Globe Life Park.
After Ohtani reached on a leadoff walk off Rangers reliever Jake Diekman, Martin entered the game and appeared to pick off the speedy Ohtani during an at-bat against Zack Cozart. The Angels challenged the call, and it was overturned after replay review showed that Ohtani got his right hand back on the base ahead of first baseman Joey Gallo's tag.
Martin, who played with Ohtani for two seasons in Japan, resumed his at-bat against Cozart, but he caught Ohtani straying again and promptly threw to first. This time Ohtani was picked off for the second out of the inning, and the Angels didn't bother to challenge the call.

"It wasn't like really a funny moment or anything," Ohtani said via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "He was my teammate, but I was just trying to be aggressive and get to the next base. He was doing his best to try to get me out. I think it was just a natural thing. But I've never seen him pick off that fast with the Fighters, so that surprised me. It's something that I know for next time I face him. "
Back in the lineup as the Angels' designated hitter on Wednesday, Ohtani finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. He collected his first hit against a left-handed pitcher in the second inning, delivering a two-out RBI single off Matt Moore to put the Angels on the board. Entering Wednesday, Ohtani had been 0-for-4 against lefties this season.

Ohtani came up to face Moore again in the fourth with on third and no outs, but he struck out looking. He later bemoaned his inability to drive in the runner.
"I never felt uncomfortable against lefties," Ohtani said. "But there was one at-bat with a runner on third and less than two outs and I struck out. I couldn't drive that run in. That's an at-bat I need to reflect and think about and try to get better for next time in that situation."
Ohtani lined out to reliever Matt Bush in the sixth before drawing a walk off Diekman, another left-hander, in the eighth. Ohtani is now 8-for-22 (.364) with three home runs and eight RBIs in five games as the Angels' DH. He is scheduled to make his third start on the mound on Sunday in Kansas City.

Ohtani, whose strength levels are assessed daily by the Angels' medical staff, said he feels the balance between his two endeavors has been going well so far, though he admitted that he's hoping to play more often as the season progresses.
"It's the beginning of the season, so I think they're being pretty careful with me right now," Ohtani said. "But once the season gets tougher, the schedule gets tougher throughout the summer, hopefully I can make them want to play me more. I would like to play more. But if not, then that's what it is, I just have to follow what they say."