OAKLAND -- Much of the Angels' optimism for the 2018 season centers around the prospect of a healthier rotation, which is expected to be fronted by Garrett Richards. After making just 12 starts over the last two seasons because of right arm injuries, Richards is finally healthy, giving the Angels
OAKLAND -- Much of the Angels' optimism for the 2018 season centers around the prospect of a healthier rotation, which is expected to be fronted by Garrett Richards. After making just 12 starts over the last two seasons because of right arm injuries, Richards is finally healthy, giving the Angels the ace-caliber starter their pitching staff has lacked over the last two years.
As a nod to his talent and tantalizing potential, the Angels selected Richards to start Thursday afternoon's season opener against the A's at the Coliseum. But the result wasn't exactly what he had been hoping for.
Richards dodged early trouble and blanked the A's through the first four innings of the game, but he allowed a four-run lead to slip away in the fifth on back-to-back homers from Khris Davis and Matt Olson. The Angels went on to drop their inaugural game of the season, 6-5, after Marcus Semien delivered a walk-off single against Noe Ramirez in the 11th.
"We would have liked to win today, but it's one of 162," Richards said. "We'll come get them tomorrow."
The loss spoiled a promising performance from the Angels' revamped lineup, as newcomer Zack Cozart, Kole Calhoun and Jose Pujols each launched home runs off A's starter Kendall Graveman. Calhoun, Cozart and Martin Maldonado finished with three hits apiece, while two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani singled in his first at-bat to collect his first career Major League hit.
After the A's tied it in the fifth, Pujols led off the sixth with his 615th career home run, a 395-foot shot to left field that temporarily put the Angels ahead. It marked Pujols' fifth Opening Day homer, tying him with Bryce Harper and Ian Kinsler for the most among active players.
Cam Bedrosian took over in the seventh, but he permitted three consecutive one-out singles, including Davis' game-tying hit to left field.
"We had some leads," manager Mike Scioscia said. "We just couldn't hold them."
The game remained tied until the 11th, when Boog Powell ignited Oakland's rally by lining a one-out triple to left field that hit off Justin Upton's glove.
"That's a tough play," Scioscia said. "Looking back into the sun, and running into the gap, that's not an easy play."
After intentionally walking Matt Joyce, the Angels brought in Upton to be the fifth infielder, but Semien followed by lining a single into center field to end the game and hand the Angels their fifth consecutive Opening Day defeat.
"Tough loss," Cozart said. "You never want to play extra innings your first day, and you don't want to lose. We did a lot of things good. I think people put so much into that Opening Day game when you have so many more. Obviously you want to win, but we'll come back tomorrow ready to play."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First pitch, first hit: Ohtani, batting eighth at designated hitter in his Major League debut, sent the first pitch he saw from Graveman through the right side for a single. Ohtani's first big league hit was one of several highlights in a productive two-run inning for the Angels, sandwiched by a run-scoring single from Andrelton Simmons and an RBI ground-rule double off the bat of Maldonado. Ohtani finished 1-for-5. More >
Davis, Olson go back to back: Richards entered the fifth inning looking to protect the Angels' 4-0 lead, but he issued a pair of walks to Joyce and Semien to bring up Davis with two outs. Richards threw Davis four straight sliders before delivering a misplaced fastball on a 2-2 count, which Davis belted to center field for a three-run homer that cut the Angels' lead to 4-3.
"I threw a two-seamer and it cut back over the plate instead of sinking," Richards said. "So that was the home run."
Richards then hung an 0-1 slider to Olson, who hooked a solo shot inside the right-field foul pole to tie the game at 4. Richards departed after allowing four runs on seven hits while walking three and striking out four over five innings.
"He showed some electric stuff at times, and at times he lost his release point," Scioscia said. "I know he's out there trying to make pitches. Unfortunately, in the fifth, a couple walks hurt him and then obviously missing some spots to Davis and Olson for the home runs. He'll be better next time out."
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Angels star center fielder Michael Trout finished 0-for-6 for the first time in his career.
Angels:Tyler Skaggs will start the Angels' second game of the season against the A's on Friday at the Coliseum. Kinsler, who sat out the season opener with a groin injury, is also expected to make his Angels debut at second base.
Athletics: The A's will have left-hander Sean Manaea on the mound for Friday's matchup against the Angels, deemed "Opening Night" in Oakland. First pitch of the second game of this four-game series is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. PT, following a special pregame ceremony honoring members of the A's 50th anniversary team.
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Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.