HOUSTON — Baseball will always surprise you.
With Mike Trout in the lineup on Opening Day, the Angels managed just two hits and no runs against left-hander Framber Valdez of the Houston Astros.
But on Tuesday night, with Trout sidelined with a bruised left hand, the Angels knocked out Valdez with a top-to-bottom attack in a 7-2 victory over the Astros.
They opened a close game with five runs in the fifth inning, an inning that included back-to-back hits by Taylor Ward, Anthony Rendon, Matt Duffy and Jack Mayfield against Valdez. They also benefited from some well-placed balls. Hits from Rendon, Duffy and Mayfield all had exit speeds below 80 mph.
Kurt Suzuki then greeted reliever Bryan Abreu with a two-run double, and Brandon Marsh singled him in, putting the Angels ahead 7-1.
In all, the Angels had 13 hits, including at least one of eight of the nine starters. The only hitless starter was Shohei Ohtani, and he walked one.
Jo Adell had three hits, while Ward, Mayfield and Rendon each had two.
The offense came alive just after starter Patrick Sandoval finished four grueling innings.
Sandoval allowed only one unearned run, but it was a fight. He walked two and allowed four hits, and had trouble keeping batters away, which increased his pitch count to 85.
In the fourth inning, with the Angels clinging to a 2-1 lead, the Astros had runners on first and second with two outs and ninth-hitter Martin Maldonado at the plate. Maldonado was 1-for-20 when he came to the plate. He fouled out on five two-strike pitches before Sandoval got him to fly out on the 11th pitch of the at-bat.
That turned out to be a major turning point of the game, because the Angels scored five runs.
Manager Joe Maddon then turned to the bullpen. Right-hander Oliver Ortega retired the Astros in order on nine pitches immediately after the five-run inning, the quintessential closing inning.
Ortega worked two blank innings. Jimmy Herget, Aaron Loup and Andrew Wantz combined for the final three innings.
More to come in this story.