Opening day games almost always feature premier pitchers’ matchups. The Astros/Angels last night was no different.
You'd think that if it were a pitcher’s duel between Shohei Ohtani and Framber Valdez, as good as Valdez is, it’s still advantage Ohtani, advantage Angels.
Yes, Ohtani was good. He went 4.2 innings with nine strikeouts and only one walk. But he surrendered four hits, including a third-inning double to Michael Brantley, followed by an RBI single to Alex Bregman.
But Valdez was even better. He pitched 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing only 2 hits, ( one a swinging bunt) one walk, and six Ks. From the third to sixth inning he was almost unhittable.
He pitched out of trouble in the seventh. (Was any pitcher in baseball supposed to pitch six after this short Spring Training?) After Mike Trout led off by reaching on an error on shortstop Jeremy Pena, Valdez almost gave up a homer to Anthony Rendon; his blast to left field was foul by an inch. But the Framberin man escaped, getting Rendon to ground into a double play.
In the seventh inning Astros hitters took over against Angels reliever Ryan Tepera. Yes, the loudmouth who accused the Astros last October of continuing to cheat even in 2021. Alex Bregman led off with a home run to left, followed by a Yordan Alvarez blast deep to center. The next three hitters, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker, and Jeremy Pena just missed homers, making loud outs instead.
The Angels answered with a run in the eighth. Reliever Phil Maton hit Brandon Marsh followed by an RBI triple by David Fletcher that was misplayed by left fielder Alvarez.
Hector Neris came in to face Ohtani, who flew out deep to right for the third out.
Ryan Pressly came in to close the game, and after allowing a Mike Trout single induced a Rendon fly out and a Tyler Wade double play.
Tomorrow Jake Odorrizzi faces Reid Detmers. Game time 8:38. Game televised on Apple TV.