Otani’s great serve ruined by Angels’ loss on A’s opening day
Logan O’Hopp finished training, said hello to his parents, then walked past the crowds of reporters in front of the dugout. When asked what the young catcher, who made his first opening appearance, expected from his starting pitcher, O’Hopp’s eyes lit up and he chuckled.
“Do Shohei Otani things.”
Otani went three no-hitter baseball games against the Athletics before being flagged for back-to-back hits in the fourth inning. Needing two outs to get out of the predicament, Otani knocked out the next two batters—Jesus Aguilar and Ramón Laureano—on a 100.7 mph fastball. shouted Otani, returning to the dugout.
Otani struck out 10 in six innings at the Oakland Coliseum, giving up just two hits and walking three. Not that it all mattered in the end. Otani came out of the start with the Angels ahead for a run. In the eighth inning, A’s Tony Kemp hit an RBI double to tie the game. “A” won with a score of 2:1..
Thursday was opening night, and for Otani and Angels, the start of a season in which they will attempt to end their eight-year playoff drought. Ceremonial flags are hung in the Coliseum, the MLB Opening Day 2023 logo is painted on the field, fireworks are launched into the sky.
And the announced crowd of 26,805 fans – those who support the Athletics, those who cheer for the Angels, and those who showed up in A shirts under Otani jerseys – shivered from the low temperatures, watching all Otani and hanging around for the A. later comeback, surge that started in the eighth inning.
The “A” rally began with Angels pitcher Aaron Lu on the mound.
Consecutive hits by Esteuri Ruiz and Kemp earned an A on the first pass. Lou landed the next hit before being replaced by Ryan Tepera, who was cheered by Aledmis Diaz with a single that drove into Kemp.
Before the game left the Angels late, it took Otani several batters to find his dominance. Kemp was the first batter Otani passed. O’Hopp had to run early to his pitcher during this game.
But Otani, with the help of the positional players behind him, kept it from unraveling. Brandon Drury skilfully parried a grounder’s shot from Conner Capel at first baseline, securing a force-out for Kemp at second.
Capel reached at the choice of a fielder. Otani sent off the last two batters of the inning with a strikeout and an elimination.
Another of those key moments came late in the fifth inning. Jace Peterson hit a deep line to the right. Hunter Renfro followed the shot all the way and, despite the fact that the prey looked unlikely, he nevertheless fired.
Renfro caught Peterson’s shot on the fly, behind his back, without even looking at the ball. Even Otani seemed dazed as he raised his hands in the air and then threw back his head.
Also, the Angels’ attack took three chances before it landed a hit, let alone a run.
Gio Urshela broke through against rookie “A” Kyle Mueller in the third inning.
He also scored his first goal of the game in the fifth round under O’Hopp.