The Houston Astros, playing their first game as an American League team, beat the Texas Rangers 8-2 in the first game in the major leagues this year.
HOUSTON — The Houston Astros and their spiffy new uniforms looked like a perfect fit in the American League.
Rick Ankiel and the Astros made an impressive debut in the AL, trouncing the Texas Rangers 8-2 Sunday night in the major-league opener and giving Bo Porter a victory in his first game as manager.
“To come out with a win is perfect,” Astros designated hitter Carlos Pena said. “To be part of it is really cool. To play our rivals here in Texas and to come out on top today, it’s a treat.”
Ankiel launched a pinch-hit, three-run shot for the majors’ first homer this season, Bud Norris pitched well for the victory and former Mariner Erik Bedard threw 3-1/3 scoreless innings for his first career save.
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Having switched from the National League to the AL in the offseason, the Astros earned their first opening-day victory since 2006 and the 4,000th regular-season victory in franchise history.
The Astros are coming off consecutive seasons with at least 106 losses and have the lowest payroll in the majors, prompting many to predict they will be the worst team in either league. But Houston opened in style, wearing uniforms that brought back the orange and blue of old-school Astros teams.
After the game, rapper Drake’s rags-to-riches hit “Started from the Bottom” played on a loop in the clubhouse. Houston, which has finished last in the majors each of the last two seasons, decided the song would be its postgame music after victories this year.
Justin Maxwell added two triples and made a nifty catch in center field.
Norris (1-0) allowed five hits and two runs with five strikeouts in 5-2/3 innings. He was one of five Astros making their first opening-day start on baseball’s second-youngest team.
“To sit at 1-0 right now feels pretty darn good, and we’ve just got to go back out there on Tuesday and play some more baseball,” Norris said.
Bedard shut down the Rangers on one hit the rest of the way for his first save in a 10-season career.
Porter, who at 40 is the youngest manager in the big leagues, insisted all spring this team would be much better than it was last season.
“It’s more about the concepts that we’ve implemented,” Porter said. “They do a great job with the information we provide and it allows them to play with confidence and allows them to play fast.”
As Houston began a new era with the move to the AL, the Rangers were embarking on a new chapter without 2010 AL most valuable player Josh Hamilton. Along with Hamilton’s departure to the Los Angeles Angels, Texas also lost catcher Mike Napoli and infielder Michael Young.
The loss snapped a streak of four opening-day victories by the Rangers. Former Astros standout Lance Berkman had two hits in his first game as Texas’ designated hitter.