Game one of the Trash Can Series featured starting pitchers Shohei Ohtani versus lefty Framber Valdez. The Opening Night Game Thread here got over 500 comments while a certain Angels blog didn’t even bother posting a game thread.
It sounded to me like Ippei Mizuhara and Drew Butera got the best ovations among non-players (other than Joe Maddon). What would we do without Ippei? The performance of the national anthem was competently performed by Tim Keppler. Then: the fly over. What can I say about that? Tim Salmon and Garret Anderson got their first pitches close enough to the strike zone to be caught. Cool!
Shohei Ohtani looked fantastic but threw a lot of pitches after an abbreviated Spring, striking out nine Astros and allowing a lone, undramatic run in 4.2. IP. But Framber Valdez was starting for the Houston Cheaters and shut out the Angels thru seven innings. Anthony Rendon missed a two-run HR by inches and then grounded into his second Double Play of the night. Max Stassi hit one to the warning track late but by then it was already 3-0 because no marine layer on a hot hot night saw balls that would normally die a foot short of the warning track sail over the wall. Just not for us.
Ah but in the bottom of the eighth, Brandon Marsh got Hit By a Pitch (on his knee and he hollered “oweee”) and David Fletcher slapped a high heater for a triple to score a speedy sore-kneed Marsh. Well… it would have been a single had Yordan Alvarez in Left played it well or even a fly out had Dusty Baker brought in a late glove. But it was the first run of the season for the Angels and the first RBI and then Ohtani was up with a man on third and Trout on deck and then… a long flyout. Ugh.
In the bottom of the ninth inning Trout got on base. Rendon flew out deep. Then Tyler Wade made his first Plate Appearance as an Angel. He had come in as a pinch runner for Matt Duffy. Wade wore Jersey 14. The first time a player has worn that jersey number since the 20th century and a hint it will not be getting retired for Mike Scioscia any time soon. Duffy wore jersey number 5, Sorry Albert, you are just a former single digit here these days.
Wade grounded into a game-ending double play and the Astros won their tenth consecutive season opener, the most by a team since like the 1800s.
(Rev Halofan wrote most of this after Charles split early)
Photo credit: Rex Fregosi