The New York Yankees defeated the visiting Los Angeles Angels by a score of 6-1 in the first game of a Thursday doubleheader and in doing so handed the Halos their seventh straight loss. Along the way, the Yankee lineup saddled Angels starter and two-way star Shohei Ohtani with one of his worst starts of the 2022 season.
Here are the numbers:
Among the three home runs Ohtani allowed was Aaron Judge's 19th of the season. Ohtani's two strikeouts are his fewest since a start against the Astros last September. With the outing, Ohtani's 2022 ERA jumped from 3.45 to 3.99.
Ohtani showed improved velocity in this start relative to his last outing against the Blue Jays. However, he wasn't able to miss many bats. Ohtani wasn't able to induce a swinging strike until his 54th pitch of the game, and his 6.7 percent swinging strike rate (three whiffs on 45 swings) is the second-worst such mark of his career. The only time he had a lower mark was in his first start back from Tommy John surgery in 2020.
Ohtani's surprising inability to get swinging strikes prompted his manager Joe Maddon to wonder whether he might have been tipping pitches:
Joe Maddon noted it was strange to see Shohei Ohtani register just three swings and misses on the mound. Didn't accuse the Yankees of doing anything wrong but he hinted at Ohtani possibly tipping pitches. "They're really good at reading pitchers. They're very good at."— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) June 2, 2022
Maddon also explained that he wasn't accusing the Yankees of any kind of illicit sign-stealing. For his part, Yankees manager Aaron Boone embraced the notion that his team has a certain faculty at picking up on such things:
As for Ohtani, he seemed to laugh off the idea. "You can ask the other side," he told reporters.
Shohei Ohtani on if he was tipping his pitches: “I’m not sure, you can ask the other side (laughing).”— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) June 2, 2022
It's of course there's possible there's something to this, and it's worth noting that Ohtani over his last two starts has allowed nine runs in nine innings. If there's a pitch-tipping problem, then the Angels are now aware of it and will take steps to address it before Ohtani's next start. The more immediate concern is stopping their free-fall down the AL West standings.