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ANAHEIM — After a year with no fans in the stands in 2020, there was a sense of normalcy Thursday at Angel Stadium on Opening Day.
And, of course, it all started with the first appearance of the season by the Rally Monkey in the eighth inning that had the 13,207 fans in attendance ready for a comeback with the Angels down a run to the White Sox. The WandaVision-themed appearance from the Rally Monkey proved immediately effective with David Fletcher reaching on an infield single and Shohei Ohtani getting on board after an error by second baseman Nick Madrigal.
It set the stage for superstar Mike Trout, who had fans chanting “MVP, MVP” during his at-bat, and he came through with yet another clutch hit, this time an RBI single to left to tie the game. And after an 11-pitch walk from Justin Upton, Albert Pujols provided the go-ahead RBI with a groundout to third in the 21st and perhaps final Opening Day start of his career. It helped the Angels to a 4-3 win over the White Sox, which snapped a streak of seven straight losses on Opening Day for the Halos.
The Angels appeared headed toward another tough-luck loss in their opener, but proved they have the kind of offense that can create late rallies. Their comeback came against one of the best bullpens in baseball and off lefty Aaron Bummer, who entered with a combined 1.99 ERA over his last two seasons.
Upton’s night at the plate also sparked optimism about how deep this lineup can be, as he gave the Angels their first hit and their first run with a two-out RBI single in the fourth off White Sox ace Lucas Giolito. Upton also nearly came through with a big hit in the sixth with two on and one out, as he smacked a grounder 108.7 mph off the bat but right to third baseman Yoán Moncada, who started an inning-ending double play. But it was his walk in the eighth that passed the baton to Pujols that was his best plate appearance of the night, as he withstood a flurry of fastballs and sliders from Bummer, fouling off five straight pitches at one point, before drawing the crucial walk to load the bases for Pujols.
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