Alexander: Ohtani gives fans their money’s worth, and then some

first_imgYes, we are only two starts into Ohtani’s big league career, and in fact two outings against the A’s. (Or should we call them the AAAA’s? You know, too good for Triple-A, not good enough … etc.)But I think it’s safe to say this now can officially be labeled the Ohtani Phenomenon, and it is something that goes way beyond the club’s merchandise sales or marketing agreements with Japanese companies. Baseball’s only two-way player is actually pulling this off, at least so far.As a hitter he has three home runs, which are as many as the Marlins have as a team and more than the Tigers or Royals. (And, shall we say, one fewer than the Dodgers.)As a pitcher, he now has pitched 13 innings, with 18 strikeouts and two walks.And in his second appearance against Oakland in eight days, against hitters who had already faced him once last Sunday in Oakland, Ohtani made them look foolish in taking a perfect game into the seventh inning before Marcus Semien’s one-out single broke it up. He finished with 12 strikeouts, all swinging, in seven innings. ANAHEIM — Before Shohei Ohtani’s second big league start as a pitcher Sunday, I was toying with this concept: The way he’d been hitting the ball in his starts as a DH for the Angels, if you were showing up to see him only pitch you’d almost feel cheated.Never mind.The only ticket-holders to Sunday’s game against the Oakland A’s who may have felt regret were those who, for whatever reason, couldn’t use their tickets. Those who showed up among the announced crowd of 44,742 got their money’s worth, and then some, watching Ohtani merely pitch in the Angels’ 6-1 victory.As for those who will claim they were in the ballpark Sunday for his first home start as an Angel? Make them show their tickets and prove it. His four-seam fastball was consistently in the high 90s, up to 99 mph, and seemed to gain steam as the afternoon went on. His splitter was in the upper 80s, and both were punchout pitches; five of his first six strikeouts were on splitters, and his next three were clocked at 99, 98 and 99.“He was throwing the fastball any time he wanted it, and that’s why the hitters feel pressure to swing at his splitter,” catcher Martin Maldonado said.He also threw some sliders in the low 80s, less effectively but good enough to keep the A’s honest. And, just to toy with their minds, he’d mix in a slow curve or two. He started Matt Joyce with a 68 mph offering in the fourth and got a called strike one, a pitch that deserved an “ooooooooh” from the crowd.Asked to recall someone he caught with the same amount of poise and ability to keep hitters off balance, Maldonado came up with a familiar name, albeit one you might not necessarily have expected.“I would say Zack Greinke when I caught him in Milwaukee,” he said. “The way he could hit spots back then … he didn’t have that much speed on his fastball, but he was a really smart guy and can do any pitch on any count, like Shohei.”And to think some of us saw the spring training performances, noted that Ohtani was carefully shielded from big league competition toward the end of the spring, and wondered if he might be better served starting the season in Triple-A.(That probably illustrates why ballclubs generally don’t trust the opinions of those of us in the media when it comes to personnel decisions.)“My favorite thing about him is that when the media was crushing him in spring training, he stayed the course, just like he is right now,” Angels infielder Zack Cozart said. “You couldn’t tell the difference.“That’s what’s so cool about him. He’s so even keel, no matter what’s happening on the field, which for me makes him that much better.”Ohtani, speaking through an interpreter, acknowledged that coming out of that so-so spring training, “I wasn’t really imagining (myself) to be this good, to be honest, but I feel I’m getting better every day. I’m getting used to everything, more and more each day.”Then he said something that suggests we haven’t seen close to the best of Shohei Ohtani.“This is just the first week and everything went well,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a wall somewhere down the road. Once I hit that wall, that’s where I need to start working harder and figure out what I need to do to get past that wall.”In the meantime, he’ll be trying to go over the wall again. Remember, Ohtani DHs again in a couple of days.And it may be a while, depending on how the Angels manage their rotation, but there will come an interleague game in a National League park where he can hit and pitch the same game.I’d hit him fifth. But I doubt Mike Scioscia will [email protected]@Jim_Alexander on Twittercenter_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img read more

DeAndre Jordan’s career night helps Clippers turn back Celtics

first_imgKyrie Irving led Boston with 33 points and eight assists. Al Horford had 20 points, and Marcus Morris added 13 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics lost for the fourth time in five games, a stretch that has seen them fall behind Toronto for the best record in the Eastern Conference.The Celtics allowed more than 120 points for the second straight game, surrendering a season-high to the Clippers after giving up 121 against Cleveland on Sunday.Boston hadn’t allowed 120 before the last two games.“We couldn’t guard them all night,” Stevens said. “So that had nothing to do with the start, middle or finish.”The Celtics are 6-9 in their last 15 games.“The theme here is our defense needs to be better,” Horford said. “We’re a group that’s built what we have so far based on the defensive end. We’ve taken a big step back on that, it’s obvious, the last few games.”Boston had opened a 99-95 lead early in the final quarter on Terry Rozier’s 3-pointer from the left wing before the Clippers went on 10-0 run over a 1:57 stretch.Williams sparked the spree by scoring the initial six points, with the first three coming on a shot from beyond the arc in front of the Celtics’ bench. He added a conventional three-point play after his driving basket.The Clippers saw their lead sliced to three twice before Jordan had an alley-oop dunk and Harris followed with a three-point play with just under three minutes to play.Williams’ three-point play made it 126-116 in the final two minutes.In the third quarter, the lead changed hands 10 times in the final 3:11, with the Clippers taking the final one at 93-91 on Harris’ 3-pointer from the left wing.TIP-INSClippers: The are 5-2 since they sent Blake Griffin to Detroit in blockbuster trade on Jan. 29. … Former Celtics guard Avery Bradley got a nice ovation during pregame introductions.Celtics: Coach Brad Stevens said guard Marcus Smart (cut, right hand) will start practicing next Wednesday, and that he put the team in a “tough position” with the injury that he suffered when he cut his hand on glass at the team hotel in Los Angeles in late January.GRONK COMMOTIONPatriots tight end Rob Gronkowski walked into the arena early into the third quarter, bringing cheers and a loud reaction from the fans sitting behind the basket where Irving was shooting free throws.He waved to the fans when he walked past the stanchion to his front-row seat. Later, he danced when he was shown on the video board.STREAK CONTINUESWilliams scored 15 or more points for the 27th consecutive game, the league’s second longest active streak.NICE STARTThe Clippers opened a 31-17 lead late in the opening quarter and led 34-25 after one. They held the lead for the entire first half, holding a 61-57 edge at intermission.UP NEXTClippers: At Golden State on Feb. 22. They’re 1-2 against the Warriors this season, with all three games decided by double digits.Celtics: At Detroit on Feb. 23. The teams have split two games. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error PreviousLos Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan reaches to block a shot by Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 129-119. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers guard Milos Teodosic, right, passes the ball as he is pressured by Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan dunks during the second quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) SoundThe gallery will resume insecondsBoston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives past Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) and forward Tobias Harris (34) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc River calls to his players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes dunks during the first quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) and Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes, left, vie for a rebound during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, rear, prepares to block a shot by Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell (5) reaches to try to block a shot by Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 129-119. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Boston Celtics center Aron Baynes, right, and Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) watch the ball get away during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 129-119. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers forward Tobias Harris (34) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 129-119. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens calls to his players during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers guard Avery Bradley (11) drives to the basket against Boston Celtics forward Al Horford, left, during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 129-119. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan reaches to block a shot by Boston Celtics guard Kyrie Irving (11) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. The Clippers defeated the Celtics 129-119. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)Los Angeles Clippers guard Milos Teodosic, right, passes the ball as he is pressured by Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)NextShow Caption1 of 13Los Angeles Clippers guard Milos Teodosic, right, passes the ball as he is pressured by Boston Celtics forward Al Horford (42) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)ExpandBOSTON — Guarding DeAndre Jordan in the paint is hard enough.When he’s making his free throws, that makes it a much bigger problem.Jordan had a career-high 30 points and 13 rebounds and the Clippers beat the Boston Celtics 129-119 on Wednesday night for their fourth victory in five games.The 6-foot-11 center, a 59 percent shooter from the free-throw line coming into the game, went 8 for 9, including hitting all four when Boston coach Brad Stevens called for his team to foul him twice intentionally.center_img “Made his free throws,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “We were jokingly saying: ‘When we find the hot hand, keep going to it.’”Tobias Harris added 21 points, Danilo Gallinari had 20, and Lou Williams 19.Jordan seemed to feed off Boston’s poor pick-and-roll defense every time the Clippers needed a basket. He had eight dunks, four in the opening quarter.“Whenever I’m setting picks and rolling, it puts a lot of pressure on the defense,” he said.Jordan finished 11 for 14 from the field. He entered hitting 64.7 percent of his shots this season.last_img read more

Martin Braithwaite seeking move away from Middlesbrough, confirms Tony Pulis

first_img The biggest market value losers in 2019, including Bale and ex-Liverpool star 2 Braithwaite in action for Denmark at the 2018 World Cup Braithwaite has scored in three of his first five Championship games this season.In the 2017/18 campaign, he scored six times in 21 matches before joining Bordeaux on loan in January.“It has to be right for the football club. If it’s not right for the football club he’ll have to get his head down and work hard for us,” Pulis added.“But it doesn’t help 48 hours before a big game when one of your better players, and he has been one of our better players so far, is actually thinking of going somewhere else.“Martin’s not a bad lad, he’s been very good around the place, he works hard, he’s diligent, but I want players that want to play for the football club.” Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade Where every Premier League club needs to strengthen in January Cavani ‘agrees’ to join new club and will complete free transfer next summer Braithwaite spent the second half of last season on loan at Ligue 1 side Bordeaux Tony Cascarino backs Everton to sign two strikers for Carlo Ancelotti The 27-year-old joined the Championship club in July 2017 from Toulouse on a four-year deal.“I get very, very disappointed that people come here, spend a short time and are looking to get off again,” manager Tony Pulis said.“That’s what really disappoints me when they’ve signed long-term contracts.”It is not clear which Spanish club Braithwaite would like to join but a deal will have to be done quickly if it is to happen as the European transfer window shuts on Friday night. LATEST moving on Arsenal transfer news LIVE: Ndidi bid, targets named, Ozil is ‘skiving little git’ center_img REVEALED LIVING THE DREAM Middlesbrough forward Martin Braithwaite has asked to leave the club, Boro boss Tony Pulis has confirmed.Braithwaite, who represented Denmark at this summer’s 2018 World Cup, is understood to be seeking a move to a team in Spain. Latest Transfer News RANKED targets 2 Kevin De Bruyne ‘loves Man City and wants to keep winning’, reveals father IN DEMAND Man United joined by three other clubs in race for Erling Haaland targets last_img read more