If the Rangers play Opening Day and nothing happens, has the regular season even really begun?
They brought out the bunting. There was a flyover. They unfurled the big American flag. They announced pretty much the entire franchise personnel along the first base line. They painted the Opening Day logo behind home plate. It all looked like Opening Day but then nine innings happened and the Rangers didn’t do much of anything.
Three pitches into the game, the Rangers trailed 1-0 after George Springer took Cole Hamels deep for a solo shot. The Astros plated single runs again in the third and fourth but Hamels was an out away from getting through a quality start before being lifted at 94 pitches despite how things began.
The Astros are going to score a million runs this season so if you’d told be before the game began that Texas would get through six allowing just three runs, I’d have taken it. My assumption would have been that the Rangers would have also scored a few runs of their own.
Except they didn’t.
Justin Verlander picked up where he left off with the Astros from last season and stifled Texas for just four hits over his six innings of work.
On the day, the Rangers had two notable rallies when the game was still in question: A two on, no out situation in the bottom of the second that Verlander erased by inducing a double play off the bat of Shin-Soo Choo and striking out Robinson Chirinos.
In the bottom of the sixth, Elvis Andrus started a two-out rally with a single and Adrian Beltre followed with his second hit of the day. Down 3-0, Texas what runners on the corners and Verlander likely facing his final hitter of the day nearing 90 pitches. Verlander was able to get Nomar Mazara swinging to end the rally.
The Astros added a run in the top of the eighth to put the game out of reach because if the Rangers
weren’t even going to score one run (holy crap they actually did score a run!), they definitely weren’t going to score four or five.
Those two blown chances were what amounted to all of the action on the day for Texas until the bottom of the ninth when Andrus finally prevented the shutout scoring on a wild pitch with two outs. Maybe 2018 will be about moral victories.
Player of the Game: The Rangers had five hits. Adrian Beltre had two of them. It’s Beltre against The World. Elvis picked up where he left off in 2017 with two hits including a double, the only extra base hit of the day for Texas. In other news, Rougned Odor had one of those hits and drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch. Odor drew walks on 3-1 pitch counts just twice in 2017. Progress!
Up Next: They take down the bunting and the Rangers and Astros get on with the rest of the 161 games on the schedule with RHP Doug Fister set to make his Texas debut against LHP Dallas Keuchel of Houston. First pitch is scheduled for a more standard 7:05 pm CT.