Top 5 Astros stories of 2013

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Rick Ankiel (Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports)

#4. Astros get big win in first game as American Leaguers

The Astros started the season with a big win in front of a national TV audience. In Houston’s first game as an American League franchise, the Astros and Rangers squared of on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball — one day before the rest of the league started regular season play. The Astros didn’t disappoint, claiming an 8-2 victory over their newly manufactured rivals.

Bud Norris got the Opening Day start — and the win. The game featured two triples by Justin Maxwell and a 10-out save by Erik Bedard. But the big blow came off the bat of Rick Ankiel.

In the bottom of the sixth, with the Astros already leading by a score of 4-2 , Bo Porter would call on Ankiel to pinch hit for Brandon Barnes. Ankiel would deliver a 3-run bomb to the rightfield bleachers, making Porter look like a mastermind in his first game as a manager. Porter got the best of Rangers’ skipper Ron Washington, who had just brought in Derek Lowe to face Barnes.

Astros fans rejoiced. We were on the top of the world. This American League thing was easy. But, after that, things went downhill in a hurry.