Muller keeps pace with Ohtani, Oakland A’s rally past Angels for Opening Day win
OAKLAND — Rookie left-hander Kyle Muller kept pace with Angels star Shohei Ohtani, and the A’s bats finally broke through in the eighth inning to rally for a 2-1 Opening Night victory on Thursday at the Coliseum.
Ohtani, the Angels two-way star who earlier this spring was the MVP of the World Baseball Classic, struck out 10 in six scoreless innings. The A’s managed just two hits off Ohtani, but none of that mattered a few innings later before a crowd of 26,805.
Rookie Esteury Ruiz led off the eighth with a single, then the speedy center fielder scored on Tony Kemp’s double off the fence in center. One out later, Aledmys Diaz, also making his A’s debut, singled to left to give the A’s a 2-1 lead.
Diaz and Seth Brown had two hits each for the A’s, who finished with six hits.
Dany Jimenez, who saved 11 games as a rookie last season, retired three of the four batters he faced in the ninth, leaving the potential tying run on first base. New A’s reliever Trevor May (1-0) pitched the eighth for the win.
Muller, acquired from the Braves this winter in the Sean Murphy trade, was the first rookie to start on Opening Day since the A’s arrived in Oakland in 1968, and kept pace with Ohtani. The 25-year-old lefty, making his 12th career start, allowed one run and struck out three. All four of the hits he allowed were singles.
As well as sparking the go-ahead rally and scoring the tying run, Ruiz made a highlight-reel catch, making a diving catch to his left to rob Mike Trout. The three-time MVP went hitless in three at-bats in the game, but walked once.
Ohtani joined Dylan Cease, Gerrit Cole and Logan Webb as four pitchers with double-digit strikeouts, matching 1970 for the most on opening day since 1901. He also went 1 for 3 at the plate, batting third in the Angels lineup.
The A’s are off Friday and the opening series resumes Saturday afternoon. Japanese right-hander Shintaro Fujinami will make his MLB debut for the A’s. He and Ohtani were part of the same 2012 draft class in Japan. Fujinami pitched the past 10 seasons with the Central League’s Hanshin Tigers.