Trout-Ohtani: 881 feet of HRs on B2B pitches

Top prospect O'Hoppe also clubs first career long ball vs. A's

April 3rd, 2023

OAKLAND -- While Angels superstars and had been hitting the ball hard early this season, they both came into Sunday’s finale against the A’s without a homer.

But that changed in a hurry in the fifth inning, as they connected on back-to-back blasts on consecutive pitches to help lift the Angels to a 6-0 win at the Coliseum to secure a season-opening series victory. The two mammoth shots traveled a combined 881 feet, as Trout’s was projected at 434 feet to dead center and Ohtani’s was projected at 447 to right-center. Both clanked off the green batter’s eye in center field.

“I think I like it,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said with a smile when asked about the homers. “Mike has hit the ball on the screws. I think he’s hit at least six or seven balls over 105 mph and had only one hit coming into this. So it was good to see him really get into one. Shohei’s at-bats have been great, too. I think when those guys are going, we’re going to be OK.”

It was another good sign for the Angels after a tumultuous Opening Day that saw them get held to one run on five singles in a 2-1 loss. The Angels scored 13 runs on Saturday, including 11 in the third inning, as the offense is starting to show what it can do.

Trout, a three-time AL MVP and 10-time All-Star, went hitless in the opener but did wallop three balls with an exit velocity of at least 104 mph, indicating he was just suffering from a bit of bad luck. He didn’t get his first hit of the year until he doubled in the sixth inning on Saturday, but he was clearly locked in again in Sunday's finale.

Trout went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a walk and is hitting .364 (4-for-11) through his first three games. His two-run shot came on a 1-1 fastball on the outer half of the plate from A's rookie Ken Waldichuk and came after a single from , who also had a hot series to begin the campaign (7-for-14).

Ohtani didn’t waste any time, as he crushed a solo shot of his own on the next pitch from Waldichuk, a slider down and in. Ohtani had just missed a homer on Saturday, as he smacked a laser to left that hit off the wall for what went as a long RBI single.

“It was a long one,” Nevin said. “It was a good swing. It was a first-pitch breaking ball, and obviously he saw it well. We're swinging at the right pitches. If we do that, we're good enough and talented enough to score a lot of runs.”

Ohtani has also been off to a hot start, hitting .333 (4-for-12) with three RBIs. He’s been aided by the elimination of the shift, as two of his hits have been ground-ball singles that likely would have been outs last year.

​​"I felt like the shift gave left-handed batters a huge disadvantage,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara on Thursday. “But now we’re on an even playing field hitting-wise.”

But it wasn’t just Trout and Ohtani to go deep on Sunday, as rookie catcher  also hit his first career blast with a three-run shot in the fourth inning that provided a huge spark. O’Hoppe has been thrust into the starting catcher role with Max Stassi out due to a family emergency and a hip injury.

But O’Hoppe has also been off to a strong start, as he leads the team with six RBIs and had the first RBI in each of the club’s first three games. He’s the first Angels player with an RBI in each of the club’s first three games since Trout in 2017.

He has also fared well defensively and guided a starting pitching staff that dominated the series, including lefty , who threw six scoreless innings with four strikeouts in his Angels debut on Sunday. All told, Angels starters combined for 17 innings and just one run allowed in the three games in Oakland.

“With all the emotions that come with it, it was a pretty surreal moment,” said O’Hoppe, the club’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline. “Opening Day was quick but I think yesterday coming in, it slowed down for me and especially today. I felt like it was just a normal game. I think I’m getting used to the environment and all that stuff. I’m really excited because I feel like my heart rate is a little slower than it was last year.”