Houston Astros: 1
The World: 0
Now THAT, my friends, was fun! What a great a way to usher in the 2014 season. Game 1 of the 2014 season is in the books, and as of right now, your Houston Astros are undefeated. I am surprised that the Internets has not been flooded with national outrage that the lowly Astros, who are jeopardizing the very fabric and integrity of the game, defeated the Yankees, who just spent over $500M in total salaries this offseason alone. Nevertheless, let us rejoice on a very fun and entertaining Opening Day for the Houston Astros.
The Astros wasted little time getting the season started off right. Dexter Fowler led off the game for the Astros with a double to straight away center, which made its way up Tal's Hill. After Grossman moved him over to third on a lineout to RF, Altuve hit a single through the drawn in infield (with 2 strikes on him).
Quick digression: Altuve then stole 2nd, and continued on to 3rd on a wild pitch (McCann airmailed the throw to 3B. A good throw probably gets Altuve by a few steps). This was aggressive baserunning, and to me it set the tone early. The speed and aggression on the basepath was on display regularly throughout the game (Fowler with the hustle double later in the game comes to mind), and it was refreshing. The Astros dared the Yankees to make the defensive plays, and they simply did not. To me it was a young team (the youngest in the league) playing with a reckless abandon, and playing with energy and confidence. Now this aggressive baserunning is a double-edged sword, and I can almost guarantee you that this reckless abandon will cause a lot of head scratching, choice words, and frustration, but that is to be expected with these young guys. It is also a trade off that I am willing to put up with (of course this is after a game when it worked out well for us, I might change my tune after a couple of 1st or 3rd outs at 3rd!). Jason Castro then hit a grounder right to 1B Mark Teixeira, and without hesitation Altuve broke for home. Another off-line throw allowed him to score. Since Altuve broke immediately, I think he would have scored on anything less an absolutely perfect throw.
Back to the action: After Castro reached on the fielder's choice, Jesus Guzman jumped on the first pitch he saw, and he absolutely crushed the ball to the power alley in LF. I particularly liked the post-swing arm extension followed by Guzman's picturesque bat drop. Check out the 4-run 1st, along with Guzman's bat drop, for yourself, in case you missed it, with the power of GIFs:
The first inning alone was enough for Scott Feldman and the Astros. Although Feldman does not have a mid-to-high 90s fastball, the man knows how to pitch. He was masterful as he pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings.
A few notes that might not show up in the score book:
- Bob Grossman fits in very nicely at the 2 spot. Although the box score will show an 0-4 night, he had very productive outs. I like how comfortable he is going to the opposite field, and the 1-2 punch of Fowler and Grossman will hopefully lead to a lot of runs.
- LJ Hoes looked very comfortable at the plate, and I am not just saying that because he hit a HR either. Along with a walk, he hit into a hard out, with 3B Kelly Johnson making a great diving play to his left to get him out.
- The defense was spectacular tonight, with Villar making a nice diving play, Altuve making a great over-the-shoulder catch in shallow LF (Paredes NOOO!!), and Dominguez making a great stab on a ball hit hard right at him (while he was drawn in).
- In general, I did not see the Astros give away nearly as many at bats as last year. It could simply be due to the fact that they faced an aging and less-productive CC Sabathia, but it was encouraging nonetheless. I will point out that the Astros collectively K'd 11 times, but it seems like strikeouts are a lot easier to swallow when you put up 6 runs and get the W!
- Boy does Derek Jeter have an absolutely textbook swing to RF, it is a thing of beauty! Tom Emanski and the back-to-back-to-back AAU champions would be proud.
So what are your thoughts? After digesting the game a little bit, how do you feel about Opening Day for the Astros? What are things that encouraged you, and what are some things that might concern you?