Shohei Ohtani’s 10Ks, ace pitching, spoiled in the Angels’ opening day loss to Athletics

Angels’ Shohei Ohtani throws in the second inning of an opening game in Oakland against the Oakland Athletics on Thursday. (Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press)

Logan O’Hope finished batting practice, greeted his parents, and then walked past the hordes of reporters in front of the dugout. When asked what the young catcher, making his first appearance on opening night, wanted from his starting pitcher, O’Hoppe’s eyes lit up and he grinned.

“Do Shhei Ohtani Things.”

Ohtani threw three innings of no-hit baseball against the track before being marked by consecutive hits in the fourth inning. Ohtani needed two outs to get out of the jam and beat the next two batters – Jesús Aguilar and Ramon Laureano – with a 100.7 mph fastball. Ohtani screamed as he walked back to the dugout.

Ohtani hit 10 over six innings at the Oakland Coliseum, giving up just two hits and walking three. Not that it mattered in the end. Ohtani ended his start with the Angels in front with a run. In the eighth inning, A’s Tony Kemp hit an RBI double to level the score A won 2-1.

Thursday was opening night, and for Ohtani and The angel, the start of a season in which they will attempt to end their eight-plus-year playoff drought. The ceremonial flag was hung in the Coliseum, the MLB logo “2023 OPENING DAY” painted on the field, the fireworks were shot into the sky.

And the announced crowd of 26,805 fans — those supporting the athletics, those cheering for the Angels and those showing up in A-shirts under Ohtani jerseys — shivered in the low temperatures, saw all of Ohtani and stayed for the A’s late Comeback, a surge that started in the eighth inning.

The A’s rally started with Angels reliever Aaron Loup on the mound.

Back-to-back hits from Esteury Ruiz and Kemp gave the A’s their first run. Loup hit the next batsman before being replaced by Ryan Tepera, who was greeted with a single by Aledmys Diaz to drive into Kemp.

Before the game came off the Angels late on, Ohtani’s start needed a few batters to find his dominance. Kemp was the first batter to be led by Ohtani. O’Hoppe had to make an early trot to his pitcher during this at-bat.

Oakland Athletics' Tony Kemp watches his RBI double in front of Angels catcher Logan O'Hoppe.

Oakland Athletics’ Tony Kemp watches his RBI double in front of Angels catcher Logan O’Hoppe during the eighth inning of an opening day game in Oakland on Thursday. (Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press)

But Ohtani never let it get out of hand with the help of the positional players behind him. Brandon Drury expertly parried a grounder hit by Conner Capel on the first baseline, earning Kemp the second-place forceout.

Capel achieved the choice of an outfield player. Ohtani retired the last two batters of the inning with a strikeout and a flyout.

Another of those key moments came at the end of the fifth inning. Jace Peterson hit a deep line drive to right field. Hunter Renfroe chased the shot all the way and although the catch looked unlikely, he made one.

Renfroe quickly intercepted Peterson’s shot behind his back without fully looking at the ball. Even Ohtani seemed stunned as he raised his arms in the air and then to his head.

It also took three innings before the Angels’ offense produced a hit, let alone a run.

Gio Urshela broke through in the third inning against A’s rookie starter Kyle Muller.

He also scored their first run of the game in the fifth, powered by O’Hoppe.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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