Astros Start the Season off Right


Scott Feldman (Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports)

Stop me if you have heard this already. The Houston Astros started their season off on a winning note beating an opponent they were supposed to lose to. This season it was the New York Yankees, and the score was 6-2.

Scott Feldman did exactly what an ace is supposed to do. He shut the Yankees down for 6.2 innings allowing just six base runners all night. And in the first two innings, the Astros’ offense gave their $30 million off-season addition plenty of run support.

When Bill Brown took the field to do the customary Opening Day introductions and there were troubles with his microphone, it could have been an ominous sign of what was to come. The roof was open, but with the wind swirling, the parachutes were cancelled.

Nolan Ryan then misfired on the first pitch to Craig Biggio, and you had to wonder if things would get better. But this is not to take anything away from Ryan and the moment, because it was a great start to the season.

Feldman then hit Derek Jeter with one out in the first inning on an inside pitch that got away from him. But there was nothing to worry about, as the right-hander had everything under control tonight. He did not allow his first hit of the night until the fourth inning, and had four perfect innings.

Another one of the Astros’ big additions, Dexter Fowler got the night off started with a double that took Jacoby Ellsbury to the infamous Tal’s Hill. After Robbie Grossman moved Fowler over to third base, Jose Altuve drove in the first run of the season with a single.

Altuve then used his speed to steal second base and then advance to third on a Wild Pitch. The Astros sent him on contact, and he scored on Jason Castro‘s fielder’s choice ground out when the Yankees failed to throw Altuve out at home. Jesus Guzman then hit a mammoth two run home run to left-center and Feldman promptly had four runs of support.

L.J. Hoes led the second inning off with a home run into the Crawford Boxes. Fowler then put his speed to good use by running hard out of the box and turned a routine single into a double. For the second straight inning Grossman moved him to third base, this time with a grounder to shortstop before an Altuve double plated Fowler.

That was the end of Houston’s offense for the night as C.C. Sabathia settled down over the next four innings to keep the Astros off the scoreboard. Sabathia is trying to bounce back from a rough 2013, and is still struggling to pitch with diminished velocity. In the first two innings, his location was off, and the Astros made him pay.

After the hit by pitch, Feldman kept the Yankees off the base paths until a Carlos Beltran single and Mark Teixeira walk in the fourth inning. Teixeira then struck again in the seventh inning with a single. Feldman then struggled with his control again and hit Brett Gardner on the shoulder before walking Brian Roberts to load the bases. That closed the book on Feldman at 102 pitches.

Kevin Chapman then came in and got out of the jam by forcing Kelly Johnson to hit a slow roller back to the mound that Chapman threw home for the force out. He then walked Jacoby Ellsbury to lead off the eighth inning before giving way to Chad Qualls.

Qualls then had some issues allowing a single to Jeter and RBI singles to Brian McCann and Teixeira. Matt Albers then got through the ninth inning with just a two out double by Johnson.

At least for one game, the new batting order worked. Well, it did for two innings. Not to rain on the parade of an Opening Day victory, but the Astros are going to have to improve their consistency and generate offense in more than just the first two innings.

For one day, the Astros are tied for first place and pending the outcomes of Seattle’s game tonight, they could have it all to themselves.