Game 1: Everyting goes well against Yanks
The result: The Astros won on Opening Day for the second year in a row, riding early homers by Jesus Guzman and L.J. Hoes and a strong performance from starting pitcher Scott Feldman to beat the Yankees, 6-2, on Tuesday (story and boxscore).
The analysis: Talk about your smashing debuts. Things couldn’t have gone much better for the Astros, who got clutch hitting early in the game, ran the bases with aggression, played airtight defense and got strong performances on the mound from Feldman and the bullpen. In short, everything went right.
Whether the Astros can play with this kind if aggression and intensity every night remains to be seen, but this was the tone manager Bo Porter wanted to set in Spring Training. Before we get too excited, let’s the remember the Astros beat the Rangers on Opening Day a year ago and were nearly the victim of a perfect game the following night en route to 111 losses.
Defensively, SS Jonathan Villar made a great diving play to rob Carlos Beltran in the first, 2B Jose Altuve made an over-the-shoulder catch of a Brett Gardner ball in the second and 3B Matt Dominguez started a 5-4-3 double play in the eighth to squash a Yankees rally.
“I felt like we were really on our toes. Even the double play there that [Chad] Qualls was able to get in that inning when they started to mount a little bit of a comeback, it was good to see a ground-ball pitcher in Qualls in that situation get the ground ball and turn that 5-4-3 double play,” Porter said. “It was outstanding defense all the way around the board. I felt our staff did a tremendous job of positioning and I felt we were in the right place all night, which allowed our players to make those plays.”
Player of the game: How can you not go with Feldman, who worked 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed two hits and two walks in his Astros debut?
“He does what he does every time he goes out there,” Porter said. “He’s a strike-thrower, pitches to both side sof the plate, can throw three pitches in any count. He’s a veteran and a guy that understands exactly what he’s trying to do with each and every hitter that steps in the box. When you pitch at that kind of pace, it keeps the defense on their toes and they know the ball is going to be put in play and they make plays.”
Stat of the game: Dexter Fowler doubled and scored in each of his first two plate appearances, joining Vinny Castilla (May 15, 2001) and Jack Hiatt (April 8, 1971) as the only players in team history with two doubles and two runs scored in their Astros debut.
Quote of the day: “It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had in my career,” Guzman on his first-inning homer.
Other stuff: Feldman’s last four starts against the Yankees have been quality starts (2.30 ERA in 27 1/3 innings). … Guzman became the first Astros player to homer in his first plate appearance with the team since Rick Ankiel’s pinch-hit homer last Opening Day against Texas. … Astros have sold out 11 consecutive Opening Day games.
Richard Justice column: High-energy Astros offer glimpse to future
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