I woke up this morning wondering if it was all a dream. I mean, no one expected the Houston Astros to win against the Texas Rangers on Opening Night in baseball. I’d hoped for it though.
In case you hadn’t been paying attention to those morons, they’ve been whining about the Astros damaging “the integrity of the game” by slashing payroll, not to mention their repeated posts about Alex Rodriguez making more while injured and sitting on his rear than the entire Houston Astros payroll. I think they can all shut it now.
The Astros strutted into the AL West last night. They did it with home runs, triples, impressive pitching and the attitude that no matter what the media says about them, they can beat anyone. And beat anyone, they did, as they took down the Texas Rangers 8-2.
The win was the franchise’s 4,000th. I was disappointed when that win didn’t come against the Cardinals at the end of last season, but I see now that the 4,000th win had bigger and brighter things to accomplish – it needed a National spotlight. That win needed to show that no matter what league Bud Selig decided to put the Astros into, they could still produce hits, runs and wins.
In the first at bat by a Houston Astros in the American League, Jose Altuve started things off right with a first-pitch single to left field. but Justin Maxwell owned the night in many ways, making some great catches in center (one that probably wasn’t catch at all), but coupled with his 2 triples – one driving the first 2 runs of the night home-, and his two runs secured his place as a leader on this young team. Interestingly, the other guy who stood out? Rick Ankiel who came off the bench to blast a pinch-hit, 3 run homer in his very first at bat as an Astro. The last guy to homer in his first club at bat? Yep, Justin Maxwell.
The offense was outstanding, but without good defensive pitching it means nothing. Hats off to Bud Norris who pitched 5 2/3 innings – 5H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 5K – 3.18. He struggled in the 6th inning, collecting 3 hits, 2 runs and a walk in that 2/3 of an inning alone. Before the 6th, Norris looked solid and used his slider to his advantage.
But behind Norris, Erik Bedard was ready close out the game. Since Bedard isn’t scheduled to start a game until Saturday, the Astros chose to use him in relief. It was a masterful decision as he pitched 3 1/3 innings, allowing only 1 hit and striking out 2. Bedard earned the save and Norris the win. A nice night of pitching from the Astros.
It would be easy to remind everyone that currently, the Astros lead the American League, but there are still 161 games of baseball to play. Last night showed, however, that anything is possible with this young club. These guys are walking – no running since Bo won’t let them walk – with a fire in their bellies. Bo Porter has ingrained in them that being a champion is a construction project, and that each day you’ve got to show up, put in the work on the project or the champion never gets built.
I don’t expect the Houston Astros to be champions this year…but it’s nice to see the progress on that construction site.