Shohei Ohtani reaches 3 times in home debut as the Dodgers rout the Cardinals 7-1

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shohei Ohtani cracked a line drive to right field and sprinted past second base, confident he could leg out a triple that would thrill his new fans in his first home plate appearance for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The $700 million slugger didn't realize Mookie Betts had been stopped in front of him at third until it was too late to avoid getting caught out on the basepaths.

“He can run very fast, but he’s got to understand that there’s a guy in front of him, too,” manager Dave Roberts said with a grin.

There’s a guy in back of Ohtani as well when Betts, Ohtani and Freddie Freeman are atop their lineup.

That trio of former MVPs gave Los Angeles an enticing first look Thursday at what these loaded Dodgers hope to do to opponents all summer long.

Ohtani reached three times, Betts and Freeman homered in the third inning, and Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 Thursday in the Dodger Stadium opener to a season of sky-high expectations.

Tyler Glasnow pitched six innings of two-hit ball for the Dodgers before a raucous sellout crowd of 52,667 hoping to spend all year watching excellence from a roster built to dominate. One week after Los Angeles began the season with two games in South Korea, the club got back to work by showing off the full breadth of its talent — starting with those three superstar sluggers, who combined for five hits, six runs and four RBIs.

“The first word that comes to mind is ‘daunting,’ for me,” Roberts said of his trio.

No offseason addition was bigger than Ohtani, who showed no signs of distraction after a tumultuous week in which he emphatically denied betting on sports after the firing of his longtime interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.

After receiving a standing ovation, Ohtani doubled, walked and singled in his first three plate appearances. Freeman had two hits and drove in three runs, while Betts scored three runs while reaching base three times.

“I was the only guy who couldn’t hit a homer, but overall I felt like I had a pretty good game today,” Ohtani said through his new interpreter, Will Ireton.

Teoscar Hernández doubled and scored in the sixth inning of his own Dodgers home debut, while Max Muncy drove in two runs.

Glasnow (1-0) was sharp in his home debut for his hometown team, striking out five and allowing just one run over 81 pitches. Glasnow, who also started the Dodgers’ opener in Seoul last week, is expected to be a pillar for Los Angeles after its rotation was decimated by injuries and off-field troubles last season.

“It’s great to be a starting pitcher behind a lineup like that,” Glasnow said.

Ryan Yarbrough pitched three innings of one-hit relief for his first save.

Paul Goldschmidt homered off Glasnow, and Miles Mikolas (0-1) yielded seven hits and five runs for the Cardinals, who managed just three hits on their opening day.

The Dodgers’ roster is the oldest in the majors, with an average of 31 years, according to MLB. It’s also a remarkably talented group after a monumental offseason in which Los Angeles spent nearly $1.4 billion on five players, adding a gallery of new stars to an already talent-laden roster.

Although Ohtani’s deal was the headliner, the Dodgers added a pair of highly regarded starting pitchers in Glasnow (five years, $136.5 million) and Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto (12 years, $325 million). They also brought in slugger Hernández (one year, $23.5 million) and handed another big contract to homegrown catcher Will Smith (10 years, $140 million).

The Dodgers’ pregame ceremonies for their home opener reflected their star power and Hollywood glamour, with the players walking a blue carpet through center field while fireworks exploded and actor Bryan Cranston announced the team’s starting lineup with gusto. Josh Groban — like Cranston, a Los Angeles native and lifelong Dodgers fan — sang the national anthem.

The Dodgers’ three MVPs then went a combined 5 for 6 with two walks, a double and two homers against Mikolas, who criticized the Dodgers this month for playing “checkbook baseball” and saying “it would be great to stick it to the Dodgers” in the opening series.

By the time Los Angeles chased him with Ohtani’s single in the fifth inning, it was clear Mikolas’ mouth had written a check his arm couldn’t cash.

“There's things (Mikolas) is going to continue to work on, but that's a really good lineup across the way,” St. Louis manager Oliver Marmol said. “(Our) offense will come together. Today wasn't the day for it. They've got some good pitchers.”

Victor Scott II went 0 for 3 and stole a base in his major league debut for St. Louis, playing center field and batting eighth.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Cardinals: Several key players are on the injured list to start the season, including prized free-agent signing Sonny Gray, new reliever Keynan Middleton and outfielders Tommy Edman, Lars Nootbaar and Dylan Carlson.

Dodgers: Relievers Blake Treinen (bruised lung) and Brusdar Graterol (right shoulder inflammation) are both still “a ways away” from playing, Roberts said, although both played catch this week.

UP NEXT

Left-hander Zack Thompson makes his 11th career start for the Cardinals on Friday. Bobby Miller starts for the Dodgers in his return from his solid rookie season.

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