Sports

Trout takes Burnes deep for MLB’s first HR on Opening Day

It started out so well but quickly fizzled for the Angels yet again on Opening Day.

After getting fans excited for Opening Day with his hype video that aired on MLB Network, superstar Mike Trout fittingly crushed a solo homer off 2021 National League Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes in the first inning. But it was one of only two hits for the Angels in an 11-3 loss to the Orioles on Thursday afternoon at Camden Yards. They’ve now lost on Opening Day in 10 of the past 11 seasons.

“It certainly was a good start,” said Ron Washington in his debut as Angels manager. “We got the lead, but it was our only lead. We will get everything together. We got that one run, and then all of a sudden in the eighth we put something together and put up two more. But you’ve got to score runs to win, and you’ve got to pitch to win.”

Trout, a three-time American League MVP and an 11-time All-Star, got the best of Baltimore’s new ace, homering on the third pitch he saw. It was a 1-1 slider that caught too much of the plate, and Trout didn’t miss it to give the Angels an early lead.

The solo blast marked the fourth Opening Day homer of the slugger’s career, an Angels record. Tim Salmon and Joe Rudi each had three. It left Trout’s bat at 102.5 mph and soared a Statcast-projected 402 feet to center field. But it was the only hit surrendered in six innings by Burnes, who struck out 11.

“Obviously, [the homer] felt good, but we didn’t win, so it didn’t matter,” said Trout, who also homered on Opening Day in 2014, ‘15 and ‘17. “I felt OK up there. Burnes has some good stuff, and that’s why he’s one of the top pitchers in the league. He kept us off-balance.”

Trout, 32, also made his 12th straight Opening Day start in center field, which set a club record for most consecutive Opening Days at one position, surpassing Salmon’s 11 straight starts in right field from 1993-2003. Garret Anderson holds the club record with 14 career Opening Day starts, while Salmon made 13 total.

Trout is looking to bounce back after being limited to 82 games last year because of a fractured hamate in his left wrist. He played in just one game after July 3 due to the injury, but he had a healthy offseason.

Trout’s homer, however, was spoiled by a tough outing from lefty Patrick Sandoval, who went just 1 2/3 innings in his first career Opening Day start.

The Orioles quickly responded to Trout’s blast, scoring two runs in the first and three more in the second.

Sandoval had trouble with his control despite an emphasis on getting ahead of hitters in Spring Training. Only 36 of his 60 pitches went for strikes, and he walked two in the first inning.

“Definitely didn’t do my job,” Sandoval said. “Put us in a sticky situation to start the game after Trout homered and got us some momentum. And to walk two in the first inning, it’s not how you want to start the game or the season.”

Sandoval, though, wasn’t helped by his infield defense, as Anthony Rendon made an error at third base to open the second inning, and it unraveled from there. But Washington said errors happen and the Angels will have to pitch better going forward.

“It wasn’t the factor in the game,” Washington said. “The factor is we didn’t pitch well or score enough runs. Errors are just part of the game.”

The Angels had to turn to long reliever José Suarez in their first game of the season. He went 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on two hits, including a two-run homer to Anthony Santander, and one walk. Right-hander José Cisnero replaced Suarez but served up a three-run blast to Cedric Mullins in the seventh.

“We couldn’t find the strike zone,” Washington said. “And you give a team like that opportunities, they usually take advantage. And they did. So we didn’t do a good job on the mound and we didn’t supply any offense, and you can’t win if you don’t do either.”

The Angels have an off-day on Friday to regroup and reset their bullpen after Sandoval’s short start. And they can take solace in knowing it was just the first game of the year.

“It’s just one game,” Trout said. “We’ve got to turn the page. It was a rough one, and we have to get ready for Saturday.”

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