When the Astros signed Scott Feldman in the offseason it raised a lot of eyebrows, more because it signaled the team’s willingness to expand the payroll than what the addition of Feldman’s talents would do to the overall win total of the team. An ace with a sub-.500 career record and an ERA over 4.50 doesn't have the sort of Earth-shattering numbers that normally drive fans to the ballpark.
But then Feldman took the mound for the Astros on Opening Day in a 6-2 win.
For 4 1/3 innings the only time the words "hit" and "Yankees" were used together in the same sentence was when Feldman plunked Derek Jeter in the first inning.
By the time Feldman left the game with two outs in the seventh inning, the Yankees hadn’t done much more to solve the right-hander, who allowed just two hits to go with a pair of walks and hit batters.
When the game ended, Feldman, who stayed in the dugout until the end of the game, was a winner in his first start as an Astro.
“I can’t say how much of a big performance (Feldman’s) was,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “His first start as an Astro, to give us that kind of performance is tremendous.”
Feldman worked quickly as the Astros built a an early lead, forcing the Yankees to swing and kept the defense, which made several nice plays, in on the action.
“You pitch at that kind of pace and it keeps the defense on their toes,” Porter said. “They know that the ball is going to be put in play they were able to make plays.”
“I think that was a big point on the game today, the defense,” first baseman Jesus Guzman said. “Feldman made good pitches and did a great job. When you make the little plays everything is going to be good.”
“I just tried to mix it up and saw they were being pretty aggressive tonight,” Feldman said. “Just tried to throw them all and make some outs and more times than not they hit them right at guys who were positioned in the right spot.”
The defense helped, but Feldman helped himself throughout the game with his command.
“I think I was able to throw to both sides of the plate tonight,” Feldman said. “That helps me out a lot.”
“It was a treat (watching Feldman pitch). Especially in centerfield,” Dexter Fowler said. “You get to see the swings the guys are taking on the other side and the movement on his pitches. Being out there was fun to watch.”
Feldman, who admitted to feeling nervous before the start of the game, was in control until the seventh inning when a single, a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. With his pitch count already at 101, Porter opted to go to reliever Kevin Chapman, who got Kelly Johnson to hit a slow roller back to the mound for an easy force out to get out of the inning.
Feldman, hanging on the dugout railing, pumped his fist in celebration.
“That was a huge play,” Feldman said. “Any time you leave three runs on base and somebody comes in and bails you out it’s a good feeling.”