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OC Register: Shohei Ohtani strikes out 9, but Angels’ bats go silent in Opening Day loss to Astros


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  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-06-LO-2.jpg

    Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning of their season opener against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-07-LO.jpg

    The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani can’t beat out the throw to Houston Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel after hitting a ground ball in his first at-bat Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate in the first inning of their season opener on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-12-LO.jpg

    Angels infielder Matt Duffy forces out the Houston Astros’ Michael Brantley at second base, but he was unable to complete a double play during their season opener on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-30.jpg

    The Angels’ Mike Trout slides in to second base as the Houston Astros’ Jeremy Peña turns a double play to end their season opener on Thursday night at Angel Stadium. The Astros won, 3-1. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-09-LO.jpg

    Angels star Mike Trout (27) gets high-fives during the team introductions before their season opener against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-11-LO.jpg

    Angels manager Joe Maddon, right, puts his arm around center fielder Mike Trout during team introductions before their season opener against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-08-LO.jpg

    A U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster, out of March Air Force Base, does a flyover as part of Opening Day ceremonies before the Angels’ game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-10-LO.jpg

    Former Angels outfielders Tim Salmon, right, and Garret Anderson take turns throwing out ceremonial first pitches before the team’s season opener against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-09.jpg

    Fans celebrate while the starting lineup is announced as the Angels take on the Houston Astros in their season opener on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-05-LO.jpg

    Longtime Angels fan Mark Guess of Amarillo holds his grandson Kierren Osborne of San Clemente, hoping to see their favorite players at the Angels’ Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-02.jpg

    Sara Naito, 4, makes her way into Angel Stadium before the Angels’ Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-06.jpg

    James Scharton, dressed as a hot dog, waits to enter Angel Stadium before the Angels’ Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday. Scharton said he lost a bet and had to wear the costume to a game last year. Now he says he wears it all the time. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-05.jpg

    An Angels fan shows off a homemade light-up Shohei Ohtani sign she made as she enters Angel Stadium before the Angels’ Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-02-LO.jpg

    The Ninomiya family, from left, Masa, Yuki, 9, Michiko, and Genki, 5, traveled from Atlanta to see Angels star Shohei Ohtani in the season opener against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-01-LO.jpg

    Noah Rodriquez holds up a stuffed trout for the Angels’ Mike Trout before their Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-03-LO.jpg

    Shohei Ohtani fans of all ages wait to get a glimpse of the Angels’ two-way star before the Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-L-ANGELS-0408-04-LO-1.jpg

    A Shohei Ohtani fan holds up an enlarged photo of the Angels’ two-way star before the Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-01.jpg

    Noemi Kelsey takes a group photo before the Angels’ Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday at Angel Stadium. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • LDN-ANGELS-0408-JG-03.jpg

    Dodgers fan Michael Martinez stands motionless as Angels fans, including his girlfriend, Melissa Rios, to his right, make fun of him while waiting to enter Angel Stadium before the Opening Day game against the Houston Astros on Thursday. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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ANAHEIM — A sellout crowd of 44,723 filled Angel Stadium to watch the start of a season in which the team has high hopes that better pitching could finally get them to the playoffs.

They saw the Angels pitch well, but they didn’t do much at the plate.

The Angels lost, 3-1, to the Houston Astros, wasting a solid start from Shohei Ohtani because the lineup – including Ohtani – came up mostly empty.

On the mound, Ohtani struck out nine in 4-2/3 innings and he allowed one run. At the plate, the Angels had just four hits. The only run scored in the eighth, when Brandon Marsh was hit by a pitch and scored on a David Fletcher triple

Ohtani, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon – the core of the lineup that was together for just 17 games last season – managed just a walk and a single in four times through the lineup. Trout, who had the only hit with a ninth-inning single, also reached on an error. In the seventh, Rendon narrowly missed a two-run homer, the ball sailing just foul. He then hit into a double play.

Ohtani struck out, popped up and grounded out. He hit a fly ball to right representing the tying run in the eighth inning.

Jo Adell had a particularly rough night, striking out three times and going hitless.

The offensive outage was a disappointment to the crowd that showed up to celebrate a new season, and to see how Ohtani could follow up on last season’s American League MVP campaign.

“The ceiling’s unbelievable,” Trout said of Ohtani. “You never know what he’s gonna do. Nothing really surprises me anymore. Just the way he learns each and every year. How he handles himself. Obviously, that’s unbelievable stuff on the field. He’s a great teammate in the clubhouse.”

Ohtani and the Angels’ other starting pitchers began the season on a tighter pitch count than normal because of the shortened spring training. Ohtani made the most of his 80 pitches.

The only run he allowed was in the third inning, when Michael Brantley blasted a double off the right field fence and then scored on Alex Bregman’s single into left.

Ohtani responded to that with his best inning of the game, striking out the side on 14 pitches in the fourth.

Ohtani struck out José Altuve on his 80th pitch, in the fifth inning, and then turned the game over to the Angels’ rebuilt bullpen. Left-hander Aaron Loup entered and struck out Brantley.

Although Ohtani was out of the game as the pitcher, he was able to remain in the game as the designated hitter in the first use of the Ohtani Rule. In a rule passed just over a week before Opening Day, MLB now allows a pitcher to hit for himself as the designated hitter, treating the roles separately. It meant that Ohtani could remain in the game as the DH, even after he was done as the pitcher.

While the rest of the Angels lineup did little, the first three Angels relievers after Ohtani – Loup, Austin Warren and José Quijada – held the Astros at one run.

The Astros added a couple of insurance runs with back-to-back homers by Bregman and José Alvarez against Ryan Tepera in his Angels debut in the eighth.

The Angels began the season after a spring training in which they insisted there was a different vibe or sense of urgency.

The Angels have missed the playoffs seven years in a row, and had a losing record in six straight years, the longest current drought in the majors. It’s been a shocking stretch for a team with Trout and Ohtani.

Asked if he feels any extra pressure to have a winning season this year, Trout said: “It’s every year. I heard it all the time. I’m tired of hearing. We’re here to go.”

More to come on this story.

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