What we learned as A's ride late rally to win over Angels


OAKLAND -- A new season is underway, and the 2023 Athletics look to outperform expectations as a team that many believe will be one of, if not the worst team in all of baseball.

The bar is on the floor, which, in a way, could be a blessing in disguise for a team that has intriguing talent up and down the roster. 

The A's played host to the Los Angeles Angels in front of 26,805 fans on Opening Day at the Oakland Coliseum. Kyler Muller toed the rubber against Shohei Ohtani and impressed against a star-studded Angels lineup. The A's bats were quiet most of the game, but rallied in the eighth inning to steal a victory from an AL West division rival. 

Here are three takeaways from the A's 2-1 win over the Angels. 

A's fans will fall in love with Esteury Ruiz

Oakland's No. 5 prospect not only made the Opening Day roster, but also started in center field Thursday night. Ruiz received one of the loudest ovations from the fanbase when his name was called in pregame introductions -- and for good reason. 

If the A's are to outperform expectations this season, young players like Ruiz will have to make a jump from a prospect with potential to everyday impact player. It didn't take long for him to flash his game-breaking speed. 

Ruiz made an impressive diving catch in the first inning to rob Mike Trout of a hit

In addition to his ability on the field, Ruiz's infectious personality off the field already has captured the hearts of his teammates. The 24-year-old is a ball of energy in the dugout and spent the majority of pregame festivities workshopping personalized handshakes with his new teammates and coaches. 

On an otherwise quiet night for the A's offense, Ruiz led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a base hit to right field. Tony Kemp followed with a booming double to center as Ruiz blazed around the bases, tying the game at one and injecting life into a cold and quiet crowd. 

Muller mows down Angels

Mark Kotsay's decision to give Muller the Opening Day nod surprised some people. Righty Paul Blackburn would have started the game, but began the season on the injured list. 

A case could have been made for James Kaprielian or even Japanese star Shintaro Fujinami, whose potential matchup with Ohtani would have drawn quite the crowd at the Coliseum on the heels of an electric World Baseball Classic tournament. Oh well. 

Muller not only handled his own on a big stage, but also was very serviceable. He allowed one earned run on four hits across five innings, while whiffing three batters and walking one.

The 25-year-old lefty oftentimes made quick work of the Angels' lineup, and his presence on the mound resembled that of a crafty veteran ace. Muller certainly is a player to keep an eye on this season. 

Keeping the superstars in check

Facing off against the two best players in the world in front of your home crowd could spell disaster on Opening Day. Surprisingly, it wasn't that bad. 

It certainly wasn't a bad day for Trout and Ohtani by any means, but there were some positives the A's can feel good about. 

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Ohtani was phenomenal on the mound, but Oakland did manage to work plenty of deep counts against the two-way phenom. The A's offense was ice-cold, but their approach at the plate was impressive. They worked Ohtani's pitch count, drew three walks and knocked him out of the game after six innings and 93 pitches. 

After he was robbed of a first-inning hit, Trout (0 for 3, BB) would reach base just once, drawing a walk in the fourth inning on an otherwise uneventful night for the three-time AL MVP. 

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