Sunday, March 31, 2013

From the Office of the County Clerk: G1 - Astros v. Rangers

Matt Harrison (0-0, -.--) vs Bud Norris (0-0, -.--)

In like a lion! Leading into the 2013 regular season, the Astros have been receiving plenty of national press, but most all of it has been overwhelmingly negative. For at least one more night, they held the national spotlight, but they went out of their way to give their critics nothing more to say. Houston notches their first Opening Day win in 7 years, and they begin their American League and Bo Porter eras with a convincing 8-2 defeat of the Rangers.

On the Mound:

*Bud Norris picked up in 2013 right where he left off from his final two starts of 2012, holding the Rangers scoreless through five until he began to run into trouble in the 6th. Bud's first Opening Day line: 5.2 IP / 5 H / 2 R / 2 ER / 3 BB / 5 K.

*Erik Bedard is in fact a member of the rotation, but the Astros won't need a fifth starter for a while, so Bo Porter got to try Jeff Luhnow's "piggyback" strategy at the big league level. Erik came in to get Bud out of a sticky 6th, then cruised through the final three innings to a 3.1 IP / 1 H / 0 R / 0 ER / 0 BB  / 2 K line and his first save since the Class A Sally League in 2000.

At the Plate:

*Jose Altuve got the first hit of the 2013 season, leading off the game with the first of two singles, and finishing 2 for 4 with a RBI.

*Justin Maxwell shook off the cobwebs of a sluggish spring, getting the Astros on the board with the first of a pair of triples, going 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored, 2 RBI, and a walk.

*Rick Ankiel, on the other hand, stayed right in line with his spring performance, launching a Derek Lowe slider deep into the right field seats for the first home run of 2013, a pinch-hit three-run bomb. He stayed in the game and finished 1 for 2 with a K.

*Matt Dominguez drove in Houston's final run on an 8th-inning single, ending up 1 for 3 with a run scored, a walk, and a strikeout.

*Carlos Pena finished 1 for 4 with a single, a run scored, and three strikeouts as the Astros' first official American League DH.

*Brett Wallace had an identical line, going 1 for 4 with a single, a run scored, and three Ks.

*Brandon Barnes started and went 0 for 1 with a walk and a K, but scored a run when...

*...Ronny Cedeno singled to RF in the 5th, and Nelson Cruz muffed the play. Cedeno went 1 for 3 with a K and a run scored.

Turning Point:

The game was scoreless until 2 outs in the bottom of the 4th, when J-Max smacked Matt Harrison's second pitch to center field for a two-run triple. The play was challenged, but stood as called, giving the Astros a lead they would never reliquish.

Man of the Match:

Justin Maxwell. Great team effort all around tonight, but Maxwell did the most to make the Astros the only all-time undefeated American League team - at least for tonight.

Goat of the Game:

Chris Carter. Ignominious debut for the Astros' new left fielder and #3 hitter, going 0 for 4 with 2 K.