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Woody Paige: Colorado Rockies roll over Angels, Shohei Ohtani as they rock May

May 8, 2018 Updated: May 9, 2018 at 6:00 am
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Colorado Rockies' Nolan Arenado is safe at home plate as his hand slides under the glove of Los Angeles Angels catcher Martin Maldonado (12) during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 8, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Rockmay.

It doesn't quite have the same ring as Rocktober, but the Rockies embrace the means and the way.

With the 4-2 victory Tuesday night over the Angels, the Rockies remain undefeated in May. They won on May Day in Chicago and have added five more, including a sweep in New York against the Mets.

And this one came with a bonus benefit. Jon Gray didn't get the shutout, but he shut down the biggest attraction of the night - Shohei Ohtani.

The Eagles and Jimmy Buffet will play at Coors Field on June 28; Def Leppard and Journey are scheduled in LoDo on July 21, and the Houston Astros will perform at the ballpark on July 24-25.

But the most prominent name to appear at Coors Field this year is Ohtani.

Shohei is the "Greatest Sho On Earth'' in the 2018 baseball season. Yet, he hasn't reached the mountaintop yet. Ohtani never played a baseball game on Mount Fuji.

But he pinch-hit for the first time at a Mile High on Tuesday.

The altitude in Hokkaido, Sapporo, Japan - where Ohtani did wondrous things for five seasons for the Ham-Fighters - is 138 feet above sea level.

Anaheim, California, United States - where Ohtani is doing some amazing things this season for the Angels - is 157 feet above the ocean.

How would Ohtani handle 5,280 feet?

"He's fine with it,'' said one of the horde of Japanese media folks who are following Ohtani on his travels in America. "He said he hasn't thought about it.''

Ohtani wasn't speaking in English, or Japanese, before the game.

If Ohtani were pitching in Denver, at 5,280 feet, Tuesday or Wednesday, he'd learn that baseballs act bizarre in Colorado. However, Ohtani will not be pitch at The Keg during a brief two-game visit to rarefied air. And he will not be pitching in Denver the rest of this season or next season or probably even 2020 - unless.

Unless the worlds of the American League Angels and the National League Rockies collide in the World Series sometime in the near future.

The Rockies and the Angels are irregular rivals.

The Rockies do play in Anaheim Aug. 27-28, so they may finally get an authentic look at the "Tensai'' - the Japanese word for phenom.

Ohtani and the Rox did have a few moments in spring training. On March 16 in Tempe, Ariz., Ohtani was supposed to work four-five innings and 75 pitches against most of the Rockies' regulars. Instead, he used up 50 pitches to get four outs. Meanwhile, Ian Desmond and Nolan Arenado hit two out, and the Rockies piled up seven runs against Ohtani, who was made a hero of epic magnitude in Japan.

Perhaps that's why Tuesday afternoon in the dugout Rox manager Bud Black was more guarded than effusive in his comments about the 23-pitcher-outfielder. "He's a great athlete,'' the manager said. "He's doing something that we haven't seen in this generation.''

Or any other generation for almost for 100 years.

This is Ruthian.

But, as Black continued, "There is a small window'' for Ohtani to succeed as both a pitcher and a hitter, and nobody knows how it will turn out.

Ohtani played in his 22nd game Tuesday.

He has started five on the mound and compiled a 3-1 record in 26 2/3 innings with a 4.10 earned-run average (including one blowup when he blistered a finger and one no-hitter for seven innings) and 11 walks vs. 32 strikeouts.

Ohtani, a DH for 16 games, has 20 hits in 60 at-bats with three doubles, a triple, four home runs and 14 RBIs.

He's hitting .333.

Of course, without the DH in a National League park, Ohtani, who doesn't play in the field, could only pinch-hit.

He did - in the seventh with one out and a runner on second and the Angels down 2-0.

Interestingly, when the Angels and Ohtani came out for batting practice at 4:55 Tuesday afternoon, only a smattering of folks, mostly in red jerseys, was watching. Out of 11 balls he hit, seven traveled over the wall, and another hit the barrier. Everyone ahhed and oohhhed!

However, with a 3-1 count in the live game, Ohtani smashed the ball down to first for a simple out. And the crowd roared.

Shohei Ohtani is 0-for-altitude.

And the Rox are on a roll.

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