ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will open their 50th season at Angel Stadium Friday night against the American League champion Kansas City Royals.
The ceremonial first pitch will be thrown by Mike Witt, who pitched for the Angels from 1981-90 and is fourth in team history in victories and strikeouts. Witt pitched a perfect game in 1984 and combined on a no-hitter in 1990 with Mark Langston, now the team’s radio analyst.
Hector Santiago will pitch for the Angels against Jason Vargas in a matchup of left-handers. Santiago is 1-0 in 10 regular season games against Kansas City, with a 0.90 ERA.
The Angels had Major League Baseball’s best record in 2014 but were swept out of the best-of-five division series by the Royals.
This season, the Angels “have a really good team, not a perfect team,” manager Mike Scioscia said last week before the team began its season by winning two of three games in Seattle.
“I don’t think there’s a perfect team out there, but I think we’re going to have a really good team in a lot of key areas. Hopefully it will get us off to a good start and keep us going.”
When asked for the team’s strengths, Scioscia first cited its bullpen, which “lines up as well as we’ve had starting a season in a long time.”
“The middle of our lineup is getting a little more balance as we move forward,” Scioscia said. “There are some nice matchups we can get into to get good lineups out there.
“Our bench probably isn’t as deep as we’ve had in other years, but we have guys we feel are going to be able to help us win.”
Tonight’s game comes 49 years and one day after the Angels’ first game at Angel Stadium, an exhibition against the San Francisco Giants.
Congestion is expected around Angel Stadium Friday night because of the combination of the Angels opener and an Ariana Grande concert beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the nearby Honda Center.
Metrolink’s Angels Express train service will be provided to and from all the Angels’ weeknight 7:05 p.m. home games on the OC Line, which runs from Los Angeles’ Union Station to Mission Viejo.
A season kickoff rally will begin at 4:30 p.m. at the Irvine Metrolink Station, where trains bound for Anaheim’s new ARTIC station will depart at 5:10 p.m. and 5:59 p.m. The first 100 adults at the rally will receive free Angels Express gear. One fan will win an Angels VIP grand prize package including four game tickets.
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