The post-Luhnow/Hinch era began as the last one ended, with Anthony Rendon rubbing it in by hitting a home run at Minute Maid Park, his first in an Angels uniform, as the Angels signified their intent for this year’s AL West with a 5-1 win. The game was notable for manager Joe Maddon using his replay challenge on a routine Alex Bregman home run in the third, “because you can’t be too careful against these guys”.
Other highlights across the four-game series were Mike Trout being Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani being Shohei Ohtani, and the sight of Dusty Baker struggling through waist-high sunflower seeds in the Astros dugout, as new GM James Click banned all waste disposal units from the clubhouse.
Despite the rocky offseason, Astros fans were back in record attendance, cheerily helping out the team with regular whistles, yells, yodels, and yeehaws through each Astros at-bat, and there were men outside Minute Maid Park making a not-inconsiderable amount of money selling bins.
Following the series, the #hottakes on Monday morning weren’t sure what to make of the Astros opening weekend. Going 2-2 against your likely division rivals doesn’t fit either the “we knew it, the-Astros-are-only-good-because-they-cheat” narrative, nor the “oh-shit-the-Astros-are-actually-pretty-good-and-going-to-win-it-all, may-God-have-mercy-on-us” narrative. So instead, MLB journalists mainly speculated on whereabouts on their bodies the Astros players have hidden the buzzers this year. This, despite Jose Altuve ripping off his OWN uniform following a third-inning double.
Next up the Astros travelled to Oakland for the Mike Fiers Canonisation Ceremony. The boos could apparently be heard as far away as Los Angeles, helped in part by a PA system that travelling/lost Dodgers fans had set up in the A’s car park. The Astros scored eight runs, including five home runs, all off Saint Michael, in an Athletic-baiting opening game of a three-game series. Asked afterwards how the no-good Astros lineup had possibly put up such impressive numbers against his 80mph fastball, Fiers said he’d much rather focus on the past than the present and did you know he threw a no-hitter once? There was definitely no sign-stealing that day, though, definitely not.
Meanwhile, in the visiting locker room, Astros players showcased their new team superpower – finding increasingly creative ways to answer all reporter questions with combinations of the words “Manfred”, “report”, “found” and “decision”.
Like many of the fans in attendance in the Oakland Coliseum, it’s now back to LA for the Astros and a series against the Angels. The Astros finish the week on top in both the AL West, and the shit-lists of every other fan in baseball; here’s to Week Two.
Thomas is one of the new writers contributing at Bat Flips and Nerds. You can enjoy his humorous takes throughout the season as he joins our Astros team for 2020. Follow him on Twitter @DownInAutumn