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Astros 4, Rangers 1: Verlander Deals, Springer Makes History

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George leads off with a Springer Dinger for the second straight year - a Major League record

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers
George Springer made history as the only player in baseball history to leadoff the season with a home run in back to back seasons with a first inning opposite field shot off Cole Hamels.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It took no time at all, really.

Three pitches, to be exact.

With that thunderbolt of a swing, George Springer became the first person in Major League history to lead off the first game of the season with a home run in back to back seasons.

Astros fans surely remember the outcome of the season that Springer led off with a home run last year.

Justin Verlander took the mound in the bottom of the first and retired the side in order - the only inning in which that would transpire for the 35 year old ace. Over the course of 90 pitches and six innings, Verlander allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five and hitting Nomar Mazara in the bottom of the second inning. All in all, he looked good - not great, but good. His command was solid, and the umpire was really squeezing him quite a bit at times, but like the Hall of Famer he is, he adjusted and gutted through it, holding a solid Texas Rangers lineup scoreless in his 2018 debut.

Jose Altuve offered a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to account for the Astros’ second run of the game in the third inning, and then Jake Marisnick logged on in the top of the fourth on this inner-third fastball from Cole Hamels:

Worth noting that Hamels seemed quite diminished in terms of velocity, but he appears to have expanded a bad cutter to be more of a decent slider, which he threw to the back foot of right-handed batters on multiple occasions in a look that evoked imagery of Dallas Keuchel. Quite an interesting development for Hamels, who is surely seeking ways to stave off the effects of age. He was able to strike out seven and held the best offense in baseball to three runs on five hits, though he did allow four walks.

In the top of the eighth inning, Jose Altuve drew a one-out walk before coming all the way around to score on a gorgeous Carlos Correa double to right-center field.

On the relief side of the mound, Chris Devenski made his first appearance of the year and was utterly filthy. He induced a weak pop up to short that Reillocity surely loved, and then struck out Chirinos and Odor to end the inning in 1-2-3 fashion. Brad Peacock entered in the bottom of the eighth inning and retired the side in order in spite of a scary fly ball to the warning track in right field off the bat of Joey Gallo, and then Ken Giles came on in the ninth and allowed a double to Elvis Andrus to lead off the inning. An Adrian Beltre pop up and a fly out from Nomar Mazara and then Andrus was at third with two outs, and suddenly the Panic Battalion was stirring and sniffing the air hopefully, looking for a reason to be ridiculous. A wild pitch allowed Andrus to score and then a single from Shin Soo Choo had the PB positively licking its collective chops, but Robinson Chirinos did Robinson Chirinos things and struck out swinging to end the game, securing a 4-1 win for the Astros on Opening Day.

Adding to this Astros fan’s giddiness, the four man shift was successfully employed more than once against Joey Gallo, with the first instance coming on the second plate appearance of the bottom of the first inning:

The last time the Astros lost on Opening Day? 2012. They have never lost on Opening Day as members of the American League.

It’s going to be a great year, folks!