MLB

Benches clear after Shohei Ohtani’s high fastball buzzes A’s Mark Canha

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Friday night in Oakland, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani took the mound for his first start in nine days, partly because traffic issues prevented him from starting Thursday. Ohtani took a 2.37 ERA with 45 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings into the series opener with the Athletics (GameTracker).

Things temporarily got a little tense between the two AL West rivals in the bottom of the third inning. A 93.3 mph fastball got away from Ohtani and buzzed Mark Canha up high, and Canha was not happy. He started chirping at Ohtani, catcher Kurt Suzuki stood in to protect his pitcher, and the benches cleared. Here’s the video:

As is often the case with benches clearing incidents, no punches were thrown and there was just a lot of standing around. The two teams retreated to their dugouts quickly and orderly, in fact. There was clearly zero intent on Ohtani’s part, and he tapped his chest as if to say “my bad” several times. That said, Canha being upset is understandable. No one likes a fastball near the head.

In the sixth inning Ohtani plunked Canha in the back with a 92.5 mph fastball. Canha immediately took first base and there were no words exchanged, and there was a runner on first base with no outs in a scoreless game at the time. If Ohtani hit Canha intentionally, it was not the ideal time to do it.

Despite the shiny ERA and all the strikeouts, wildness has been a problem for Ohtani pretty much all season. He walked 22 batters in 30 1/3 innings in his first six starts, and he walked Canha on five pitches to open Friday’s game. The pitch getting away and buzzing Canha was unfortunate, but it wasn’t exactly uncharacteristic for Ohtani this year.

The Angels are using a DH on Friday, so Ohtani is not in the lineup. He is hitting .266/.328/.616 with 15 home runs this season, and his two-way play is the foundation of a strong MVP case.



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