All opening days begin with such promise, but for half the teams the heartache that follows won’t be matched for months when they begin to be eliminated from the postseason. Hopefully, Angels fans can take solace in the fact that last season began the same way. In fact, it began with a three game sweep at the hands of the Mariners.
As I wrote this morning, the M’s have a dangerous rotation and few teams had to open against a monster of the caliber that the Angels did in Felix Hernandez who struck out ten today (and 11 on last seasons opener). Our own hero, Mike Trout, started things off right with a blast to dead center at the spacious Safeco Field. He then went on to remind critics of his one weakness, the strikeout. He fanned three times following that first inning home run and the rest of the team couldn’t muster up another run against King Felix or the Seattle relief corps.
The Halos held that one run lead until the third inning when Jered Weaver was unable to finish off the side with two outs. Austin Jackson doubled, Seth Smith tripled and Robinson Cano singled to give the Mariners the lead. A lead that was never really threatened by the Angels. Later in the fifth inning Dustin Ackley homered and Seth Smith had a another RBI, this time with a ground-rule double. They had their chance to tie the game in the eighth but Trout struck out with a chance to tie the game. The feast or famine day for Trout continued in the bottom of that same inning when he robbed Logan Morrison of a home run.
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Some positives to take away from this game are that Fernando Salas was able to pitch a clean inning and hopefully the team got their opening day nerves out of the way against one of the games best. Johnny Giavotella looked comfortable at second and even managed to get a hit. A good start for him could mean a lot to the Angels for the rest of the season. An opening day win is great but doesn’t mean everything. Just ask the Mariners who have won nine straight openers but struggled to make the postseason during that span.
Tomorrow will see a pair of lefties starting in C.J. Wilson and James Paxton. Wilson is looking for a rebound year and Paxton is still just beginning his Major League life in what will be his 18th start at the top level. Last season he went 2-1 against the Angels who will be looking to avoid another dismal start that has haunted them for the past few seasons.