Mother Nature wasn’t going to spoil the Astros Opening Game two days in a row.
Even the reported frigid temperature of 36 degrees at game time did little to deter the Astros from their first win of the 2016 season. And they did so in 2015 fashion with solid pitching, timely hitting, and getting the right breaks.
Yesterday’s starter, and reigning AL Cy Young winner, Dallas Keuchel demonstrated why he should be considered one of the top pitchers in the majors. Despite allowing two runs due to a Starlin Castro double and walking four New York Yankees in the first three innings, Keuchel settled down to keep the Astros in the game for seven innings. No, he didn’t have his usual pinpoint command (you try pitching in cold weather), but he did just enough to ensure that a win was possible. When pitchers don’t have their best stuff, they still have to find ways to keep themselves in the game. Keuchel did just that yesterday. However, the starting pitching was only half the story.
Even though he suffered a defensive mishap on a ground ball that eventually led to Castro’s two RBI double in the second inning, Carlos Correa made up for it with his bat. He responded in the fourth inning with an RBI force out to score Jose Altuve, which was the Astros first run of the 2016 season. Then Correa followed that up with a solo home run (1) in the sixth inning that tied up the game at two apiece. And don’t forget that he drove in Altuve in the eighth inning, which broke the tie, thanks to a controversial play at first base.
In response, the Yankees filed a protest. The damage was done, though. Luis Valbuena then drove in the final two runs of the game for the Astros with a single. And did I mention that all of the damage in the eighth inning came against Dellin Betances, a top Yankees reliever.
So yeah, the Astros offense didn’t mash the cover off the ball today, unless you count Preston Tucker‘s double in the fifth inning that was clocked with an exit velocity of 110.5 MPH per MLB’s Statcast. And even Tyler White got his first major league hit! Unfortunately, White exited the game after he was hit by a pitch on the hand in that after mentioned eight inning.
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We also witnessed Ken Giles debut as an Astro, and like his Philadelphia Phillies debut a few years ago, he gave up a home run to the first hitter he faced. This time is was Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius who got the best of Giles. However, the former Phillie closer rebounded as he recorded quick three outs while flashing his impressive stuff that reminds Astros fans why the team traded for him in the first place. Then closer Luke Gregerson retired Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, and Brian McCann in the bottom of the ninth to cap off the Astros first victory of the season.
Overall, you couldn’t ask for much more from an Opening Day in Yankee Stadium. Exciting baseball that left you on the edge of your seat all game long. Now the Astros will turn to Collin McHugh to go against Michael Pineda in tonight’s game. We will see if McHugh is able to get off to a better start than he did last year.
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**Game data provided by MLB.com**
**Exit velocity provided by MLB Statcast**