Houston Astros (0-0) vs. Seatle Mariners (0-0), April 3, 2017, 7:10 PM CT
LHP Dallas Keuchel (9-12, 4.55 ERA, 1.29 WHIP in 2016 vs. RHP Felix Hernandez (11-8, 3.82 ERA, 1.32 WHIP in 2016)
And here we go...
The famous words of a fictional madman clown preparing to watch his final move play out to take over a city and defeat a fictional superhero.
There may be no clowns or superheroes in the sport of baseball. But there is a madman in Houston that has been working to build up the Astros up into a title contender since 2011.
The final chapter of that journey will play out in 2017. Jeff Luhnow is the madman waiting for the action about to unfold and saying “And here we go...” high above the baseball field.
That final chapter begins today on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park with a familiar face on the mound for the Astros, Dallas Keuchel.
Keuchel becomes the first LHP in team history to make three opening day starts, surpassing Dave Robers — starting 1973 and 1974.
Astros will face RHP Felix Hernandez for the Mariners. Hernandez is right at home on opening day with a 6-1 record with a 1.49 ERA and a 0.754 WHIP in nine starts. He has struck out 68 batters in 66 1⁄3 innings.
But the Astros have had success against Hernandez lately. The Astros have scored 22 runs in the last 10 1/3 innings against Hernandez.
The Astros will have few new toys to play with: OF/DH Carlos Beltran and C Brian MCann. Beltran has had success against Hernandez (.500 (7x14), 4 2Bs) and McCann hasn't (.154 (2x13), 3 BB).
Adrenaline could carry the Astros, it has every time since the team has moved the AL — Houston is 4-0 on opening day as an AL team.
And don’t expect fireworks on Opening day, only two Astros have a home run of King Felix in 169 at-bats — Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez.
Key Matchup: George Springer vs. Felix Hernandez
George Springer is batting leadoff for the Astros and needs to set the table for the Astros high-powered offense. He will be facing a pitcher he’s had middle of the road success against. Against Hernandez, Springer is batting .286 (4x14) with two doubles, three RBIs, and .286 OBP.
In 2016, the Astros gave Hernandez two losses and scored five runs in those two games in the first two innings. George will be key to putting the pressure on Hernandez.