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Shohei Ohtani Dominates At Fenway Park

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

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Shohei Ohtani showed zero lingering effects from the relatively minor groin injury he sustained last weekend during his return to the mound Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park. Not only did he become the first starting pitcher to bat in one of the top four lineup spots at the historic ballpark since Babe Ruth back in 1919, but he wound up firing seven shutout innings in a win over the Red Sox. He scattered six hits, didn’t hand out a free pass, and also recorded a staggering 11 strikeouts, falling just one shy of matching his previous career-high mark. He utilized his entire four-pitch arsenal to keep Boston’s batters off-balance as he generated an eye-popping 29 swinging strikes, including 10 each on his four-seam fastball and slider, and finished with an astronomical 46 percent CSW (called strikes plus whiffs). The 27-year-old two-way sensation also went 2-for-4 with an RBI single at the plate in this one. What more can you say, folks. He’s simply unreal. Ohtani has been outstanding over his last three starts since April 20, allowing just two runs on 12 hits with 27 strikeouts and just a pair of walks across 18 innings. He’ll carry a sparkling 3.08 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 41/5 K/BB ratio in 26 1/3 innings (five starts) into a favorable home outing Wednesday against the Rays.

Starting Pitchers with an EDGE

Jesus Luzardo vs. Padres

6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K

33% CSW, 13 swinging strikes

Luzardo’s breakthrough campaign continued Thursday evening when he gave up only three hits with a pair of Manny Machado solo homers representing the lone tallies against him in this one. He generated 13 swinging strikes and finished with a 33 percent CSW. The 24-year-old southpaw has allowed two earned runs or fewer in four of his five starts this season. He’ll carry a stellar 3.08 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 35/12 K/BB ratio across 26 1/3 innings (five starts) into a tasty road tilt Tuesday against the Diamondbacks.

Tarik Skubal vs. Astros

6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K

31% CSW, 15 swinging strikes

Skubal recorded a season-high nine strikeouts over six innings Thursday evening in a no-decision against the Astros. He coughed up six hits, including solo homers to Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena, which accounted for all of the damage against him in this one. He generated 15 swinging strikes and finished with a 31 percent CSW. It was a nice bounce-back effort for the 25-year-old lefty after being lit up for six runs over five frames his last time out against the Twins. He’ll carry a solid 3.04 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 29/3 K/BB ratio across 26 2/3 innings (five starts) into a tasty home matchup Tuesday against the Athletics.

Rich Hill vs. Angels

5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K

32% CSW, 9 swinging strikes

Hill authored his strongest start of the 2022 campaign Thursday afternoon, scattering one hit and one walk over five scoreless innings in a no-decision against the Angels at Fenway Park. He notched six strikeouts and was lifted from the contest despite needing only 68 pitches (40 strikes) to navigate five frames. He generated nine swinging strikes and finished with a respectable 32 percent CSW. The 42-year-old southpaw has been on a roll lately, tossing 13 consecutive scoreless frames over his last three starts. He hasn’t exactly gone deep into starts, but he’s been a reliable back-end starter for the Red Sox and fantasy managers so far. He’ll carry a pristine 2.86 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 17/7 K/BB ratio across 22 innings (five starts) into a road tilt Wednesday against the Braves.

Hitters with an EDGE

Manny Machado vs. Marlins

2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR (6, 7), 2 RBI, BB

Machado took Marlins’ lefty Jesús Luzardo deep in the first and fourth innings, respectively, to record his first multi-homer performance of the season. It was the 31st time he’s accomplished the feat in his remarkable career. The 29-year-old third baseman is off to a sizzling-hot start this season, slashing .374/.447/.657 with 25 runs scored, seven homers, 20 RBI and five stolen bases across 114 plate appearances.

Willy Adames vs. Reds

2-for-4, 3 R, 2 HR (7, 8), 4 RBI, BB

Adames clobbered a pair of homers as the Brewers went deep six times in a lopsided victory over the Reds on Thursday afternoon. The 26-year-old shortstop extended Milwaukee’s lead with a two-run shot off Cincinnati’s hard-throwing rookie right-hander Hunter Greene in the second inning and also tattooed another two-run shot off righty reliever Art Warren in the eighth inning. It was his second multi-homer effort in the last two weeks. He’s really begun to heat up after a rather pedestrian start to the regular season, hitting .300/.407/.780 with seven homers and one stolen base over his last 13 games.

Tyler Stephenson vs. Brewers

2-for-4, 2 R, HR (3), 2 RBI, SB (1)

The Reds have been utterly abysmal this season, dropping to a lowly 3-22 overall with a 10-5 loss at the hands of the Brewers on Thursday afternoon. However, Stephenson put together a solid effort in the losing cause, kicking off the scoring with an RBI single in the opening frame and also launching a solo homer in the fourth inning. He also chipped in his first stolen base of the season, just for good measure. The 25-year-old backstop, who was activated from the 7-day concussion injured list earlier this week, is hitting .263/.356/.500 with three homers and one steal in 45 plate appearances. He should be rostered as a starting catcher in all fantasy formats moving forward, especially given the overall state of the position.

Jared Walsh vs. Red Sox

2-for-4, R, HR (4), 4 RBI

Walsh stayed hot Thursday afternoon at Fenway Park, breaking a scoreless stalemate in the seventh inning with a two-run blast to right field off Red Sox’ reliever Tanner Houck. He also added an RBI single in the ensuing frame, extending the Angels’ lead to a commanding seven runs. The 28-year-old righty-mashing first baseman has gone deep in back-to-back contests to double his over-the-fence total for the season.

Ryan Mountcastle vs. Twins

2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR (3, 4), 2 RBI

Mountcastle kicked off the scoring with a solo shot to center field off Twins’ starter Chris Archer in the second inning before capping the multi-homer effort with a line-drive shot to right-center field off righty reliever Jhoan Duran in the eighth inning. It was his first multi-homer performance since August 24, 2021. The 25-year-old slugger is hitting .250/.280/.396 with nine runs scored, four homers,12 RBI and one steal across 100 plate appearances.

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Closing Time

Daniel Bard vs. Nationals

1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (8th save)

Bard was called upon to guard a two-run lead in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon and needed just 12 pitches to slam the door. He gave up a one-out single to Maikel Franco, but bounced back to retire Keibert Ruiz and Dee Strange-Gordon to end the contest. The 36-year-old righty has converted eight of his nine save chances this season.

Emmanuel Clase vs. Blue Jays

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (5th save)

Clase was summoned to protect a one-run lead Thursday evening against the Blue Jays and required just 13 pitches (11 strikes) to preserve the victory. The hard-throwing 24-year-old righty struck out George Springer, coaxed a tapper back to the mound from Raimel Tapia and whiffed Bo Bichette to end it. He’s converted five of his six save opportunities this season.

Corey Knebel vs. Mets

0.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (1st blown save)

The Phillies blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning Thursday evening. That’s it. That’s the tweet, folks. James Norwood recorded just one out and surrendered four runs before Knebel was summoned to attempt to put out the fire. He wound up surrendering four hits, including a game-tying RBI single to Brandon Nimmo and a go-ahead RBI double to Starling Marte. Yikes. It’s really not what you want.

Edwin Diaz vs. Phillies

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (6th save)

Diaz has looked completely locked-in recently, reeling off five consecutive scoreless appearances since April 25. He was tasked with guarding a one-run lead after the Mets erased a six-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning and needed just 14 pitches (nine strikes) to slam the door. The 28-year-old righty struck out Roman Quinn, got J.T. Realmuto to ground out and fanned Rhys Hoskins to end the contest.

Ryan Pressly vs. Tigers

1.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (2nd blown save)

Pressly’s average fastball velocity was down nearly two miles per hour from last year in his return from the 10-day injured list Thursday evening as he was charged with his second blown save of the season. He managed to retire Javier Báez and Austin Meadows before giving up a two-out single to Miguel Cabrera. He had a chance to get out of the jam unscathed, but wound up surrendering a game-tying two-run homer to ensuing batter Jeimer Candelario. The 33-year-old righty has converted just three of his five save opportunities this season.

Brooks Raley vs. Mariners

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (2nd save)

Raley tossed a perfect ninth inning Thursday night, guarding a one-run lead against the Mariners to net his second save of the season. He wound up needing just 12 pitches (eight strikes) to slam the door in the final frame. He struck out Julio Rodriguez before getting Jesse Winker and Luis Torrens to ground out to end the contest. The 33-year-old lefty has allowed just two runs on five hits with a 10/1 K/BB ratio across seven innings this season in his Rays debut.

Taylor Rogers vs. Marlins

1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (11th save)

Rogers fired a perfect ninth inning Thursday evening, preserving a one-run lead against the Marlins to record his 11th save of the season. He’s converted 11 of his 12 save opportunities this season in San Diego. The 31-year-old lefty struck out Jorge Soler and Jesus Sanchez before getting Garrett Cooper to fly out to right field to end it. He’s reeled off 11 2/3 scoreless innings with a 12/1 K/BB ratio in his Padres debut. Not bad at all, folks.

EDGE Priority Pickup

Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

Robles started the 2022 campaign in an abysmal 0-for-18 funk, but has been on an absolute tear lately, hitting .333 (16-for-48) with eight runs scored and nine RBI across his last 16 games since April 17. The 24-year-old former top prospect appears locked-in at the moment and appears to be on the verge of finally tapping back into the all-around skillset that made him one of the most exciting young hitters in the game just a few seasons ago. He’s not hitting for any power or stealing bases at the moment, but he’s hitting again, which makes him at least worthy of a speculative roster spot for fantasy managers in deeper mixed leagues moving forward.

Friday’s Matchup of the Day

Kevin Gausman (Blue Jays) vs. Shane Bieber (Guardians) - 7:10 PM ET

Gausman and Bieber will lock horns Friday evening in Cleveland in the marquee pitching matchup of Friday’s 15-game slate. Gausman has been simply magnificent in his Blue Jays debut this season, recording a sparkling 2.27 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 41/0 K/BB ratio across 31 2/3 innings (five starts). Yes, you read that correctly, he hasn’t walked a batter this season.

American League Quick Hits: Carlos Correa was removed from Thursday’s game against the Orioles with a contusion on his right middle finger and initial imaging revealed that he may have sustained a non-displaced fracture. He’ll undergo additional testing, including a CT scan, on Friday. … Mariners optioned RHP Matt Brash to Triple-A Tacoma. He’s expected to transition to a relief role moving forward. … Astros activated RHP Ryan Pressly from the 10-day injured list. … Teoscar Hernandez (oblique) played another minor league rehab game Thursday for Single-A Dunedin. … Adley Rutschman (triceps) will report Friday to Triple-A Norfolk. … White Sox placed OF Andrew Vaughn on the 10-day injured list with a bruised right hand. … Athletics placed LHP Cole Irvin on the 15-day injured list with left shoulder soreness. … Enrique Hernandez was held out of the Red Sox’ lineup Thursday due to illness. … Max Kepler (illness) returned to the Twins’ starting lineup Thursday against the Orioles. … Rays activated C Francisco Mejia from the COVID-19 injured list. … Orioles claimed LHP Logan Allen off waivers from the Guardians. … Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena swatted solo homers and Kyle Tucker delivered a game-winning RBI single, lifting the Astros to a walk-off victory over the Tigers. … Cedric Mullins homered for the second consecutive game in the Orioles’ victory over the Twins. … Steven Kwan blasted a two-run homer, powering the Guardians to a narrow win over the Blue Jays. … Brandon Marsh went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in the Angels’ victory over the Red Sox. … Mike Zunino crushed a three-run homer Thursday, powering the Rays to a win over the Mariners. … Byron Buxton homered and collected three RBI on Thursday in the Twins’ loss to the Orioles. … Bo Bichette tallied three hits and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. walloped a two-run homer in the Blue Jays’ loss to the Guardians. … Trevor Story went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts in the Red Sox’ shutout loss at the hands of the Angels. … Jeimer Candelario hit a game-tying two-run homer Thursday in the Tigers’ eventual loss to the Astros. … Jesse Winker and Adam Frazier hit solo homers in the Mariners’ loss to the Rays. … Shane McClanahan was charged with two runs over 5 1/3 innings Thursday in a win over the Mariners. … Aaron Civale yielded four runs and struck out eight batters over 5 2/3 innings in a win over the Blue Jays. … Jorge Lopez fired 1 1/3 scoreless frames to pick up a win in relief against the Twins. … Jose Urquidy tossed six scoreless innings Thursday in a no-decision against the Tigers. … Chris Archer struck out six batters over four innings in a no-decision against the Orioles. … Spenser Watkins gave up three runs over 4 2/3 innings Thursday in a no-decision against the Twins. … Robbie Ray surrendered four runs over 6 2/3 innings Thursday in a loss to the Rays. … Jose Berrios was tagged for six runs over 4 2/3 innings in a loss to the Guardians. … Tanner Houck was shelled for seven runs over 2 1/3 innings in relief against the Angels. … Jhoan Duran allowed a pair of solo homers and was saddled with a loss in relief against the Orioles. … Gregory Soto gave up one run on two hits and took a loss against the Astros.

National League Quick Hits: Nick Castellanos exited Thursday’s contest against the Mets with a bruised right wrist after being hit by a pitch. … Nelson Cruz (back) was held out of the Nationals’ starting lineup Thursday for the second consecutive game. … Joey Wendle (hamstring) returned to the Marlins’ starting lineup Thursday against the Padres. … Nick Lodolo (back) is scheduled to return to the Reds’ starting rotation Saturday against the Pirates. … Francisco Lindor hit a two-run homer and Starling Marte went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBI in the Mets’ comeback victory over the Phillies. … Christian Yelich went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and a stolen base, powering the Brewers to a blowout victory over the Reds. Luis Urias, Keston Hiura and Tyrone Taylor also went deep in the one-sided affair. … Brendan Rodgers went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer and four RBI in the Rockies’ win over the Nationals. … Tommy Edman went 3-for-5 with three RBI, leading the Cardinals to a victory over the Giants. … Juan Soto went 2-for-3 with a solo homer and a pair of walks in the Nationals’ loss to the Rockies. … Bryce Harper went 2-for-5 with a solo homer and two RBI in the Phillies’ loss to the Mets. … Jesus Aguilar hit an RBI single Thursday in the Marlins’ loss to the Padres. … Mike Yastrzemski delivered an RBI single in the Giants’ blowout loss to the Cardinals. … Miles Mikolas gave up one run over 5 2/3 innings Thursday in a win over the Giants. … Nick Martinez allowed one run over seven innings Thursday in a win over the Marlins. … Adrian Houser was charged with five runs (four earned) and struck out six batters over five innings in a win over the Reds. … Aaron Nola recorded seven strikeouts and allowed one run over seven innings in a no-decision against the Mets. … Antonio Senzatela surrendered three runs (two earned) over 4 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Nationals. … Taijuan Walker was charged with seven runs (six earned) over four innings in a no-decision against the Phillies. … Hunter Greene was torched for eight runs on nine hits and recorded seven strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings in a loss to the Brewers. … Aaron Sanchez was lit up for seven runs (six earned) over 4 1/3 innings in a loss to the Rockies.