Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani is still transitioning to the majors as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. On the pitching side, things look promising. On the hitting side, Ohtani has had some tough luck early on. That took a turn for the worse Wednesday, as he had to face Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
Ohtani’s first at-bat against Kershaw actually started out pretty well. He managed to work a 2-2 count against the lefty, which is no small feat. It was at that point that Kershaw decided to unleash the pitch Vin Scully once dubbed as “public enemy No. 1.”
Kershaw dropped a beautiful curve low and outside to Ohtani, who stared at it until the ump rang him up on strikes.
— Frank Stampfl (@Roto_Frank) March 7, 2018
Upon getting back to the dugout, all Ohtani could do was laugh about what just happened.
When you face Clayton Kershaw for the first time and then wonder "How in the world am I supoosed to hit that guy?"
Such is Shohei Ohtani's dilemma at the moment. pic.twitter.com/TYZjKPkuwF
— Ryan Fagan (@ryanfagan) March 7, 2018
Can you blame him? Kershaw is known for having a knee-buckling curve, and if you’re not used to seeing it, you can forget about hitting it.
As for the laughing, it appears this may have been a “welcome to the majors” moment for Ohtani. He just saw what the best of the best had to offer, and he came up short this time.
It also appears the rest of the Angels were laughing along with him. As Ohtani approached the dugout, outfielder Justin Upton could be seen smiling, as if to say, “Now you see how much of a pain it is to hit this guy, rook.”
Kershaw didn’t find much humor in the interaction. Following the game, he said there was no extra excitement when facing Ohtani.
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) March 7, 2018
The result of one at-bat is not meant to be an indictment of Ohtani’s skills. Few major-league hitters can touch Kershaw, especially when he drops a hammer curve into a tough spot.
It’s more a reminder that Clayton Kershaw is still amazing. No matter how good you are, seeing that majestic curveball for the first time will stop you in your tracks.
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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik