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Astros 3, Angels 4: Blasts from the past down 'Stros in series opener

On July 26, 2011, Albert Pujols hit a home run for the St. Louis Cardinals in their win over the Houston Astros. It would be the last homer he hit for the Cardinals against Houston.

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Jose Altuve, having been called up from the AA Corpus Christi Hooks exactly one week prior, is the only player who was on the Astros 25-man roster during that game who is still on the roster today. (Yes, I know what you're thinking; Jason Castro! But he was out all year with that knee injury)

A lot of things have changed in the 1,426 days since that day. Jim Crane became the new Astros' owner, Jeff Luhnow was hired as General Manager and began a thentofore-unseen level of rebuilding. Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn were dealt for key prospects, and later so too were Bud Norris and numerous others. Carlos Correa was a name no one in Houston had ever heard yet, and Dallas Keuchel was posting solid, but highly-unspectacular, numbers down in AA. Chris Carter was an Oakland A with less than 150 plate appearances to his name. The H-Star logo was a distant memory, and orange and blue adorned teams in Denver and New York, not Houston.

But with as much as has changed, some things have apparently stayed the same; the Astros lost this night, and three of the four runs that did them in came off the cracks of Albert Pujols' swings.

Sure, the final back breaker was the final run, a safety squeeze that was well-executed by the Angels, and perhaps poorly-played by the Astros, though it's far from certain that that winning run would have been out even if Chris Carter's weird sideways shovel toss had been on the money. And some blame can go to Chad Qualls, who continues to be a bit too adventurous for a late-inning reliever.

But 75% of the Angels' runs came from just one man. That most familiar foe, that future Hall of Famer, that guy we've all had quite enough of already, thank you. He overshadowed a solid Brett Oberholtzer, who was cruising along through a shutout until Prince Albert knocked a two-run shot into the stands. Over 100 pitches to his credit yet not out of the sixth inning, Hinch elected for a call to the relief corps.

The offense didn't do much to be praised, either, with just a Domingo Santana opposite-field clout the only run they managed through the first seven innings. George Springer, Carlos Correa, Evan Gattis, Colby Rasmus, Altuve and Carter managed just one base hit between them. The fact the team was still in it at all is a bit amazing in retrospect.

And so game one went the wrong way, the way they used to go, back in the day. Bad memories from dark times past resurfaced on Monday night. The Astros will be looking for memories of a nicer variety on Tuesday, as Collin McHugh will try to recapture the magic that was his 2014 season.