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Fans at Angel Stadium pelt Astros with boos and a couple of trash cans

A member of the Angels grounds crew carries an inflated plastic trash can under his arm as he removes it from the field.
A member of the Angels grounds crew removes an inflated plastic trash can thrown onto the field during the sixth inning of a game against the Houston Astros on Monday at Angel Stadium.
(Harry How / Getty Images)

There were boos, jeers, chants. Even an inflatable trash can.

“Cheat-ers! Cheat-ers!” Angel Stadium rhythmically decried.

Playing in front of Southern Californian fans for the first time since their sign-stealing scandal became public in November 2019, the Astros were heckled Monday night by an announced crowd of 13,447 that included more than a few people dressed in Dodger blue.

It was nothing like the Astros probably would have received had the 2020 season been played normally. Eighteen months have passed since the first public revelations about their trash-can-banging scheme that took place in 2017. And MLB stadiums in California are still restricted to reduced seating capacities.

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But that didn’t stop Southland fans from trying.

Shohei Ohtani entered the game in the eighth inning and scored the go-ahead run as the Angels defeated the Houston Astros 7-6 to improve to 4-1.

When the Astros lineup was announced pregame, boos rained down from the stands for every name — the loudest were for Carlos Correa and Jose Altuve — except catcher Martín Maldonado, who played for the Angels during that controversial 2017 season.

For many of the Astros’ at-bats, various chants broke out: “Where’s your trash can?” “You’re a cheater!” “Astros suck!” When Altuve hit a foul ball in the fourth inning, the fan who retrieved it threw it back on the field.

And twice play was stopped when trash cans were tossed into the action. In the sixth inning, a fan wearing a Dodgers hat chucked an inflatable trash can onto the warning track.

Then in the eighth another patron plopped a real one — filled with crushed-up cans and empty bottles — down from right-center field.

“It used to be beach balls,” Angels manager Joe Maddon joked. “Now it’s trash cans.”

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There didn’t seem to be any tension between the teams themselves. During warmups, Albert Pujols shared embraces with Correa and Alex Bregman.

Albert Pujols hugs Carlos Correa with Alex Bregman nearby.
Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, center, hugs Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa before the game.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

But Maddon understood fans’ ire — even if he didn’t think it bothered the Astros.

“I know it helped the fans vent from a couple years ago,” Maddon said, adding that the Astros were “not impacted by it whatsoever, and I think it actually might fuel them a little bit. However, the fans need to do what they want to do. And they did.”

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The Astros received similar treatment over the weekend in Oakland, and will probably face ridicule in most cities they visit this season — especially when they travel to Dodger Stadium in early August.

Astros manager Dusty Baker, however, is already finding the antics unamusing.

The Angels’ new bullpen — which features seven new pitchers, including two signed three days before the start of the season — has already seen action.

“You can tell the amount of hostility and the amount of hatred in the stands,” Baker, who was not part of that 2017 Astros team, told reporters postgame. “I think that, sometimes, we need to look at ourselves before you spew hate on somebody else. It’s a sad situation for America, to me, when you hear — I mean, what are the kids supposed to think in the stands? And some of them are kids that are following their parents.

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“It’s sad to me. People make mistakes. We paid for ours. And I wish they’d leave it alone.”

Of course, that’s not likely. The intensity of the animosity toward the Astros might be diminished because of the less-than-capacity crowds. But the underlying anger isn’t. Not by a long shot.

“I really didn’t realize it until things started coming in the field,” Angels center fielder Mike Trout said. “Obviously they’re booing and stuff. It was a crazy, crazy atmosphere out there. And I saw a couple trash cans fall behind me.”


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