TOKYO — There were 55,000 spectators in the Tokyo Dome on Thursday, but everyone’s attention was focused on one figure: Japan’s No. 16 Shuhei Ohtani. There was a roar from the crowd as Ohtani’s name was announced ahead of the Japan-China match in World Classic Baseball.
The applause increased even as Ohtani took the pile to the dice and then as he entered the hitting box to hit.
Playing in the Classic for the first time in his career, Ohtani dominated a much weaker team from China. In four innings pitched as a pitcher, he struck out five batters and allowed only one hit. He touched 100 mph with the fastball and hit 99 mph six more times, in what would ultimately be an 8-1 victory for the Japanese team.
Most of the Chinese team’s players play in the Chinese National Baseball League, which has not played games since the end of the 2019 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been training and playing warm-up matches on their own, but it doesn’t seem fair that their first El Clásico assignment was against the best player on the planet.
In beatings, he was Ahtani… Ahtani. After walking in his first appearance at the plate, the Angels star came into the box with the bases loaded in the second inning and Japan took a 1-0 lead, but pinched to end the inning.
Finally, in the bottom of the fourth, Otani scored on a double with runners on first and third, driving both in, extending Japan’s lead to 3–0.
In the end, Ohtani went 2-for-4 with said double, two RBIs, one hit and two runs scored.
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