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Shohei Ohtani given ovation by fans at home debut as Dodgers cruise past Cardinals on Opening Day

CNN —
Shohei Ohtani received a warm welcome on his home debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers as his new team cruised to a 7-1 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Opening Day on Thursday.
Ohtani has been swept up in a betting scandal involving his former longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara – who was allegedly stealing money from the superstar’s bank account to pay off gambling debts – which has overshadowed the build-up to the new MLB season, but there was no sign of any ill-will from the LA faithful when he took to the field for the first time at Dodger Stadium.
The Japanese superstar, who signed baseball’s richest contract with the Dodgers during the offseason, was welcomed with a standing ovation as he jogged onto the field and his name was announced for the first time.
After the victory, Ohtani expressed his relief at his warm reception.
“I’m very grateful, now being part of the Dodgers, and being received by the Dodger fans,” Ohtani said through team employee Will Ireton, per the Dodgers website. “Obviously, I’ve been here before as an opposing player, so it was a little intimidating. I’m very grateful for the fans – and there were a lot of them.”
The two-time unanimous American League MVP’s first home at-bat didn’t go to plan though, hitting a double into the right-field gap before being thrown out between second and third base in a rare base-running mistake when his teammate Mookie Betts didn’t attempt to run home.
Ohtani stalls at second base after hitting a double during the first inning. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Although it was a less-than-perfect home debut for Ohtani personally, he couldn’t have asked for a better team performance in his first appearance in Dodgers blue in the US.
The other two former MVP’s on the roster – Betts and Freddie Freeman – both had stellar outings to help Los Angeles romp to a comfortable victory.
The trio all reached base at least twice as well, collectively going 5-for-8 with two home runs and four runs batted in and combining to safely reach base in nine of their 12 appearances at the plate.
With the brilliance of pitcher Tyler Glasnow on the mound – who struck out five and allowed just two hits and one run over six innings – it proved a successful afternoon in the California sun as the Dodgers began their season on US soil, having played two games already in South Korea, as they start their nascent campaign with a 2-1 record.
After Thursday’s victory, Betts expressed his excitement at what the team has built and what is to come.
“It seems like we’re just up there doing our jobs, having fun and playing the game,” Betts said, per the Dodgers website. “I think there’s been a lot of expectations on the outside, but internally, nobody expects anything more than what Freddie, Mookie, Shohei and everybody down the lineup can do. We’re just going to do what we can.”
The Dodgers continue their season with three further home games against the Cardinals over the next three days.

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