The Houston Astros begin their quest to “Take it Back” tomorrow afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays on opening day at Tropicana Field.
It’s finally here, baseball season is upon us! The Astros and the Rays will begin their four-game series at Tropicana Field Thursday Afternoon to kick-off their seasons. The Astros will be defending the AL West Division title and try to return the World Series Trophy to Houston. Tampa Bay will look to improve on their 2018 third-place finish in the tough AL East Division.
The Rays finished last season 18 games behind the 1st place Boston Red Sox and seven games back in the wildcard race with a record of 90-72. Houston had a franchise-best record of 103-59. The Rays had the edge over the Astros last season winning four of seven games and have an all-time record of 32-21 against them.
This series has some very intriguing pitching match-ups. Three of last season’s top five pitchers in the CY Young Award voting are featured. Game one has CYA winner Blake Snell going up against his runner-up Justin Verlander. I don’t think you could possibly plan a better opening day pitcher’s duel than that.
Verlander has a lifetime record of 8-4 against the Rays and 5-3 at Tropicana Field. This will be his 11th opening day start. Snell has gone against the Astros three times in his career winning two of those games. The last time these two met was last season with both pitchers going into the seventh inning and allowing only one earned run each.
Game two has Gerrit Cole battling it out with former teammate and good friend Charlie Morton. “I’m excited to face Charlie,” Cole said. “Hopefully we can make a gentleman’s wager or something on the line.” Cole has only faced Tampa twice losing one and getting a no-decision in the other. Morton is 3-5 lifetime against the Astros with an ERA of 5.96.
The third game in the series finds Collin McHugh making his first start since the 2017 season. Tampa has had good luck against McHugh winning four of the five games in his career. I say “good luck” because McHugh has a low 2.12 ERA when facing the Rays. The Astros will be facing Tyler Glasnow for the first time.
Wade Miley will get the nod in the final game of the series against a pitcher yet to be named. Miley has a career 3.36 ERA when facing the Rays and has a record of 4-5. But that was before he’s had the advantage of Houston’s analytical department and the tutoring of pitching coach Brent Strom.
There are a few Astros players that are experiencing some aches and pains that may be questionable for the opener. Carlos Correa is still suffering stiffness in his neck and Josh Reddick is feeling back stiffness. It’s still questionable if either player will suit up Thursday. Reliever Josh James is still dealing with a quad strain and is unlikely to be ready for the opener.
It should be a good series to open up the season, especially that first game featuring Verlander and Snell. Verlander had a great outing his in last tune-up game and said he felt great. If he can out pitch Snell, I think the Astros have a good shot at a sweep. We’ve been waiting ever since losing out to the Red Sox last season and now it’s time to begin the journey to “Take it Back”.