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Ohtani reacts to walk at Yankee Stadium road greys

Ohtani reacts to walk at Yankee Stadium road greys

All the Angels had to do was log onto Aaron Boone’s pregame media Zoom. The game plan was right there.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re controlling the strike zone on him a little bit,” Boone said about Shohei Ohtani, three hours before Ohtani started against his Yankees. “He will walk some guys.”

That is true. Ohtani is a star pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and can touch 99-100mph, a good slider and a standout splitter. But he does struggle at times with his control.

For an opposing lineup, it’s one thing to possess that knowledge, and an altogether more difficult achievement to capitalize on it.

When the Yankees offense is at its worst — a place it has lived all too often this season — they make it too easy for pitchers to get away with a lack of command. Seeming anxious to produce a big hit and save the season with one swing, they chase pitches out of the strike zone and fail with runners in scoring position.

At their best, they draw a collective deep breath and make what Boone calls good “swing decisions.” A memorable example of this came in the first game of the 2020 postseason, when the Yanks tortured Cleveland Cy Young winner Shane Bieber.

That night, their hitters refused to expand the strike zone, forced Bieber to throw hittable pitches, and punished him for seven runs.

It was that same approach that allowed them to force another top starter from a big game early. This time, Ohtani’s New York residency took a stunning turn, when the two-way phenom failed to complete the first inning.

He suffered from a severe lack of command, and home plate umpire John Libka held to a tight strike zone. For these reasons, it probably was not the most difficult night to draw a walk.

But the Yankees executed their game plan — no small victory in light of their issues this year — and did not let Ohtani get away with it.

Leadoff hitter DJ LeMahieu, who earlier this year was breaking character by chasing bad pitches, began by taking a 3-2 slider just above the zone.had it easier, seeing very little to tempt him.

Gary Sanchez followed with perhaps the most impressive at-bat of the inning, fouling off a 3-2 slider to stay alive and walking on the next pitch.

That brought up Giancarlo Stanton with the bases loaded. He stroked a 1-2 cutter to left to drive in the game’s first run.

Gleyber Torres took two fastballs, then Ohtani beat him on a fastball down the middle. Torres responded by hitting the 2-1 slider to left to score another run.

The measured approach continued, and climaxed in the bases loaded walk to Brett Gardner that chased Ohtani from the game.

This was far from Ohtani’s best. But it’s not easy for an offense to calmly execute its pregame plan, either — and that’s exactly what the Yankees did against a pitcher who entered the game with a 2.58 ERA.

By the time the inning was over, that number had jumped to 3.60.