The Texas Rangers’ great starting pitching continued into Anaheim as Kohei Arihara wound up on top, leading his team to victory over his former teammate.
The match would indeed be played, with a focus on two Japanese players making huge impacts for their individual franchises.
Kohei Arihara took the hill for Texas, coming off an incredible outing against the Tampa Bay Rays and his first major league win.
For the Angels, Shohei Ohtani hit second and was the designated hitter. He has been one of the most impressive players across baseball this season, but the potential MVP candidate was bested by his former Ham Fighters teammate on Monday.
Kohei Arihara and Shohei Ohtani faced off in MLB for the first time during the Texas Rangers-LA Angels game.
After they greeted each other prior to the game, the matchup of the night was on.
For the first time in their young careers, the former teammates faced off in the first inning.
Angels second baseman David Fletcher singled to center to leadoff the game, but Arihara got the best of his fellow statesman quickly thereafter.
After getting ahead 0-1 on Ohtani, Kohei just missed the zone with back-to-back changeups. However, on the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Ohtani hit a sharp grounder to first baseman Nate Lowe who turned a 1-6-1 double play.
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Ohtani runs well, forcing an Angels review that confirmed the initial out call.
Arihara, 1. Ohtani, 0.
During their second matchup, Arihara and Ohtani found themselves in a very similar situation to the first.
With one out in the fourth inning, Ohtani stepped up to the plate and worked another 2-1 against his former teammate.
With the count in his favor, Shohei Ohtani drove the 2-1 splitter to the deepest part of the ballpark. In what looked and sounded like a no-doubter off the bat, Adolis García performed highway robbery, bringing it back with an excellent leaping catching at the wall.
Their first stateside matchup ended with an exclamation point, courtesy of a quickly rising fan favorite.
Ohtani would finish the night with an 0-4, with two strikeouts, but is still hitting .309/.345/.655 on the season. He has also hit four homers and driven in 12.
Arihara picked up his second straight win, as well as the Rangers’, with 5.2 innings of shutout baseball, striking out six and walking two. Arihara has lowered his season ERA to 2.21.
The Rangers’ right-hander was undoubtedly thrilled to have that kind of success against an old friend and teammate, but gave him high praise after the game.
“Obviously, he’s an amazing player and his swing was extremely fast. The vibe he gives off is a superstar, so I’m happy and I’m glad that I was able to get him out.”
Arihara and Ohtani were teammates with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters from 2015-2017, which made this matchup even more special for the two of them.
In 129 games with the Fighters, Arihara posted a 60-50 record with a 3.74 ERA. He struck out 626 over 836 innings pitched from 2015-2020, while throwing 12 complete games and four shutouts.
Ohtani dominated in his five seasons with the Nippon Ham Fighters, pitching in 92 games with a 42-17 record. Over 565 innings, he struck out 651 and threw 13 complete games, while posting a 2.55 ERA.
While Ohtani posted a better career stat line in Japan, Kohei Arihara and the Texas Rangers are winning the former teammates’ matchup in the states.
The 1-0 may not last long, but could be the beginning of one of the most fun matchups across the game of baseball.