Astros Humble Rangers 4-1 In Opener Behind Verlander's Gem

Dean Simpson
April 1, 2018

The Astros won their first World Series championship in 2017 but had to go through the Rangers to win the American League West, even though Texas ended up fourth in the division and lost 84 games a year ago.

Springer hit a 2-0 pitch off lefty Cole Hamels (0-1) into the right-field seats, becoming the only player in Major League Baseball history with leadoff homers in consecutive season openers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The 35-year-old Verlander (2017 Astros: 5 - 0, 1.06 ERA, 34 IP, 43 strikeouts) was traded to the Astros late in the 2017 season and ended up being a huge component of their World Series victory. He hit six more homers in the postseason, including five in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers, the Game 7 starter in last year's World Series, is 0-3 in five career starts against Texas.

During the first homestand of the season, the team has planned a series of events to celebrate the championship. Andrus scored on a wild pitch and the Rangers avoided being shut out in a home opener for the first time since 1992.

Verlander will be making his 10th Opening Day start in the past 11 years and his first for the Astros. He struck out four and walked one in a 99-pitch stint.

Hamels struck out seven and walked four in 5 2-3 innings.

Because of Joey Gallo's enormous power, Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch used a unique tactic to ensure the Texas Rangers slugger wouldn't get on base.

Cole Hamels will be the Rangers' starting pitcher.

There are a lot of questions surrounding the Texas Rangers this season. Houston will counter with ace Justin Verlander. Manager A.J. Hinch said the Astros will determine after the first five games if Gurriel is healthy enough to join the team.

Game two of 162 begins tonight, when the Astros send Dallas Keuchel to the hill.

Will tonight's matchup in Arlington between the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers turn into a pitcher's duel at 8:05 p.m. ET?

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