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Shohei Ohtani autographs ball Kody Clemens struck him out with

Kody Clemens will never catch his father in career strikeouts. When it comes to their first one, though, the kid has the upper hand.

The Detroit Tigers’ rookie utility player — and son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens — caught Shohei Ohtani looking late in Monday night’s 10-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. And to sweeten the deal, Ohtani signed the keepsake for Clemens. 

Clemens, 26, struck out last year’s AL MVP on a 68 mph pitch, where Clemens yelled “strike three” from the mound. Clemens then tossed the ball into the dugout, hoping he could persuade Ohtani to sign it sometime before their series was over, which he did on Tuesday. 

After Monday’s game, Ohtani said he was impressed with Clemens’ pitch. 

“It was a wonderful pitch,” Ohtani said through his interpreter.

Ohtani fouled off a 54 mph delivery from Clemens, took a 57 mph pitch for a ball, and then fouled off a 56 mph offering.

“I mean, obviously can’t do it slow enough for Ohtani. Maybe you can throw it slow and slow and slow and then maybe surprise him with a fastball,” Detroit manager A.J. Hinch said. “Big smile on Kody’s face, and Shohei tipped his cap.”

Those were four of the seven slowest pitches Ohtani has faced this season, according to MLB Statcast. The other three were by Tampa Bay outfielder Brett Phillips, including a 53 mph “fastball” during the Angels’ 12-0 victory on May 12, when Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter for Los Angeles.

Clemens was pitching for the third time in the past seven days to save Detroit’s bullpen with the game out of reach. He worked one inning and allowed one run on three hits.

He has pitched six times this season and given up three runs on 10 hits in six innings.

Roger Clemens had 4,672 strikeouts during his 24-year career, third on the all-time list behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. The Rocket’s first one came against Cleveland’s Mike Hargrove on May 15, 1984.

“I don’t know how (Kody’s) father would have done against (Ohtani), but he can always say he punched him out,” Hinch said.

Associated Press contributed to this report.


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