Shohei Ohtani trumped Framber Valdez in the Angels loss

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani was outstanding for five innings on the mound, and he looked dangerous on the plate all night.

Framber Valdez and his Houston Astros were just a little bit better everywhere while extending a remarkable decade of opening-day dominance.

Valdez beat Ohtani with 6 2/3 innings of two-hit balls, and the Astros tied the longest opening-day winning streak in major league history with a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels Thursday night.

Alex Bregman had an early RBI single and a late homer as the Astros won their 10th straight season opener. That matches the mark set by the Boston Beaneaters—now the Atlanta Braves—in the late 1800s.

Valdez (1-0) was nearly untouchable in the late-rising left-hander’s first career start in April, scoring six goals. He retired 15 Angels in a row after Matt Duffy’s single in the second and only got out after Duffy’s soft infield single in the seventh.

“This guy, he’s a beast,” said Houston catcher Martín Maldonado. “He goes out there and doesn’t talk too much. He only does pitches.”

Shhei Ohtani
Shhei Ohtani
USA TODAY sports

Valdez’s lead almost slipped away in the seventh when Anthony Rendon missed a go-ahead by inches on the left field line.

“When I saw the ball flying in the air, I got mad at myself for not throwing my best shot,” said Valdez, who got Rendon to make a double play on the next throw. “I just took a deep breath and threw my best pitch.”

Houston manager Dusty Baker had a different take on Rendon’s fly: “We all blew that ball foul.”

Ohtani (0-1) struck nine while throwing a one-run ball in the fifth inning for the Angels, who lost their season opener for the eighth time in nine years. Last season’s AL MVP went 0 for 4 on the plate while taking advantage of baseball’s offseason rule change that allowed him to remain the designated hitter after he finished pitching.

Framber Valdez
Framber Valdez
USA TODAY sports

Michael Brantley doubled and scored in the third Bregman singles against Ohtani. Bregman and Yordan Alvarez then met new Angels Relive Ryan Tepera in eighth place.

Los Angeles finally scored in the eighth round when Alvarez failed to hit David Fletcher’s two-from-three to the left, but Hector Neris pulled Ohtani back with a high flight to the right.

“The last at-bat, I thought it might have a chance,” Ohtani said through a translator. “Overall, I’m pretty happy with how I felt on the plate, even if the results weren’t there.”

Ohtani didn’t win, but he made even more baseball history: He became the first player in baseball history to throw his team’s first pitch of the season — a 99 mph fastball into the dirt against José Altuve — and faced his team’s first pitch in the season on the plate.

Ohtani was impressive on the mound in his first start on the opening day of his career, especially against Altuve: Ohtani beat the Astros star three times and brought him down with a nasty slider on his 80th and final throw.

“I feel like I could have done better,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani became only the fourth pitcher to fan Altuve three times in a game, but manager Joe Maddon drew Ohtani early to spare his arm after a shortened spring.

“Shohei, again, nothing is too big for him,” Maddon said. “Nothing is too fast for him. I thought he was really handsome. … I loved our efforts. I loved everything about us today.”

Mike Trout went 4-1 with a single in the ninth inning in the first game of the three-time AL MVP since missing the last 4 1/2 months of last season with a calf injury.

Rendon went 0 for 4 and made two outstanding defensive plays in the $245 million third baseman’s first appearance since July 4th.

After Rendon was flown out with Trout on base in the ninth, Ryan Pressly got Tyler Wade into a game-ending doubles game and scored the save hours after the Houston closer agreed to a two-year, $30 million deal. Shohei Ohtani trumped Framber Valdez in the Angels loss


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