Astros rout Rangers in MLB season opener
HOUSTON — Rick Ankiel and the Houston Astros made an impressive debut in the American League, trouncing the Texas Rangers, 8-2, Sunday night in the major league opener and giving Bo Porter a win in his first game as manager.
Ankiel launched a pinch-hit, three-run shot for the first homer this season, Bud Norris pitched well for the win and Erik Bedard threw 3 1⁄3 scoreless innings for his first career save.
Having switched from the National League to the AL in the offseason, the Astros earned their first Opening Day victory since 2006 and the 4,000th regular-season win in franchise history.
The Astros are coming off consecutive 100-loss seasons and have the lowest payroll in the majors, prompting many to predict they will be the worst team in the majors. But Houston opened in style wearing spiffy new uniforms that brought back the orange and blue of old-school Astros teams.
Justin Maxwell added a pair of triples and made a nifty catch in center field.
Norris (1-0) allowed five hits and two runs with five strikeouts in 5 2⁄3 innings. He was one of five Astros making his first Opening Day start on baseball's second-youngest team.
Bedard shut down the Rangers on one hit the rest of the way for his first save in a 10-season career.
As Houston began a new era with the move to the AL, the Rangers were embarking on a new chapter without 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton. Along with Hamilton's departure to the Angels, Texas also lost catcher Mike Napoli and infielder Michael Young.
The loss snapped a streak of four straight Opening Day victories by the Rangers. Former Astros star Lance Berkman had two hits in his first game as Texas' designated hitter.
Matt Harrison (0-1), who signed a $55 million contract this offseason, yielded six hits and five runs and tied a career high with nine strikeouts in 5 2⁄3 innings.
Maxwell's two-out triple in the fourth inning broke a scoreless tie and gave Houston a 2-0 lead. The ball bounced off the wall in left field and scored Brett Wallace and Carlos Pena, who both got on with singles. Umpires reviewed the play to make sure it wasn't a home run and upheld the call.
An error by right fielder Nelson Cruz let Houston score a run in the fifth, and Jose Altuve singled home another.
Harrison put runners at first and second with walks in the sixth and was replaced by Derek Lowe with two outs. Ankiel, the one-time pitcher with St. Louis, connected on his fifth career pinch-hit homer, a full-count shot to right field that made it 7-2.
Norris had a tough second inning and had to use 26 pitches to escape, striking out Mitch Moreland. Norris got on a roll from there, retiring nine of the next 10 batters.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.