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Shohei Ohtani reached three times in his home debut for the Dodgers, and Los Angeles beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-1 Thursday in the Dodger Stadium opener to a season of sky-high expectations.

Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman homered in the third inning, and Tyler Glasnow pitched six innings of two-hit ball for the Dodgers. One week after Los Angeles began the season with two games in South Korea, the club showed off the talent throughout an expensive, star-studded roster headlined by three former MVPs at the top of the batting order.

No 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 from the raucous sellout crowd of 52,667, Ohtani doubled in his first official at-bat at Chavez Ravine since agreeing to his record 10-year, US$700-million contract. The two-time AL MVP followed with a walk and a single as the Dodgers’ designated hitter.

Freeman had two hits and drove in three runs, while Betts scored three runs while reaching base three times. Teoscar Hernandez 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.

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 off-season in which Los Angeles spent nearly US$1.4-billion on five players, adding a gallery of new stars to an already loaded roster.

Although Ohtani’s deal was the headliner, the Dodgers also signed two of the top starting pitchers on the market in Glasnow (five years, US$136.5-million) and Japanese star Yoshinobu Yamamoto (12 years, US$325-million) while adding slugger Hernandez (one year, US$23.5-million) and keeping homegrown catcher Will Smith (10 years, US$140-million).

In Baltimore, mood was hopeful and sombre

The opening day of baseball season always carries hope for the local team, and this season there are few who have greater reason for optimism than Baltimore’s Orioles – a young, talented club that had the best record in the American League last year.

But the expected exuberance of the Orioles’ opener Thursday was tempered by the collapse this week of the Francis Scott Key Bridge, which left six construction workers dead and upended the lives of thousands of other people in the area whose livelihoods are tied to the bridge.

An expected sellout crowd bundled up in Orioles black and orange under grey skies and cool temperatures. A lengthy pregame ceremony concluded with a moment of silence for the victims of the collapse, and the Morgan State University Choir gave a rousing rendition of the U.S. national anthem, which was written by Key.

Corbin Burnes’s debut in Baltimore was everything his new team could have wanted. The Orioles’ new ace was excellent – and their offence showed why they’re the reigning AL East champions.

Burnes allowed one baserunner in a dominant six innings, and Anthony Santander and Cedric Mullins both homered as the Orioles began their division defence with an 11-3 rout of the Los Angeles Angels.

Mike Trout hit a first-inning home run off Burnes, but the Angels managed nary a peep against the new Baltimore ace after that. Burnes (1-0) struck out 11 in his first start after the Orioles acquired him from Milwaukee in an off-season trade.

Tigers open with 1-0 win over White Sox

CHICAGO — Tarik Skubal pitched six innings of three-hit ball and the Detroit Tigers opened a promising season on a winning note, beating the Chicago White Sox 1-0. Skubal and three relievers combined to retire the final 17 batters. The White Sox did not advance past first base and wasted a terrific start by Garrett Crochet. Skubal (1-0) picked up right where he left off last year. The 27-year-old left-hander struck out six without a walk in his first opening-day start, after going 4-0 with a 0-90 ERA in his final five outings a year ago. Crochet (0-1) tossed six sparkling innings in his first professional start, allowing one run and five hits. The 24-year-old left-hander struck out eight and walked none.

Lopez shuts down Royals

KANSAS CITY — Pablo Lopez allowed one run over seven innings, Royce Lewis homered before leaving with an injury, and the Minnesota Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 4-1 to begin defence of their AL Central crown. Carlos Correa added three hits and two RBIs to back a near-peerless performance by Lopez, who picked up where he left off last postseason. The right-hander allowed four hits and struck out seven without a walk in his first opening-day start. The lone run Lopez (1-0) allowed was a homer to Maikel Garcia, the first batter he faced.

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