The Astros are 3 for 3 in opening day games when George Springer hit a home run. In the previous two years when he hit an opening day home run the Astros ended up winning more than 100 games. Which means that because George hit his third straight opening day home run today against the Rays, the Astros are on the way to their third straight 100 win season.
Conversely, on the only occasion last year when the Tampa Bay Rays’ Cy young winning pitcher Blake Snell got Shnelled for three home runs in a game, the Rays lost the game.
So with the real best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander, dominating on this Opening Day like it was against the Yankees in post-season, the Astros were bound to win this one running away. And that they did.
But it didn’t look so good at first.
It looked like old man time had caught up with Verlander in the first inning. Indeed, it was the Astros opponent this year, and not George Springer, who opened his team’s season with a home run, this one by lead-off hitter Austin Meadows. Tommy Pham would follow that with a sharp single.
The Rays would not get another hit until the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, Verlander would accrue nine strikeouts, and at one point he struck out three batters in a row using only 9 pitches. He threw 102 pitches total, 72 for strikes, 23 of the swing and miss variety. Very auspiciously, the new and improved Verlander change up got eight strikes, five swinging out of the eleven he threw. The best pitcher in baseball has another deadly weapon? OMG
Blake Snell’s night, on the other hand, did not go so well.
After allowing third inning walks to the new Astros catcher Robinson Chirinos and Jake Marisnick, George Springer crushed his third straight Opening Day home run, a 427 foot blast to center field that left his bat at 106 MPH.
The next inning, another new Astro, left fielder Michael Brantley, showed he’s going to fit in quite nicely with a solo shot of his own, a 404 foot line drive down the right field line hit at 104 MPH.
In the fifth, Mighty Man Jose Altuve started his season off right with a left field moonshot, showing new found power in his legs after off-season surgery to his right knee. Last year Jose did not hit a home run until April 25th.
In total the Astros would get 10 hits, 2 doubles and 3 home runs. Altuve, Brantley and Yuli Gurriel would each get 2 hits, with Alex Bregman and Aledmys Diaz being the only hitless Astros this day.
Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna pitched scoreless eight and ninth innings respectively.
Box score and videos HERE.
Tomorrow, Gerrit Cole faces former Astro and World Series hero Charlie Morton in a bittersweet confrontation in the second game of the year. Game time is 6:10 CDT.
Credit to Tigersnack for the term Shnelled.