Fowler, Feldman key Opening Day win

Fowler, Feldman key Opening Day win
April 1, 2014, 11:30 pm
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(USA Today Images)

The Astros are making a habit of a strong opening day performance. For the second straight year, Houston used the home run to power past an American League power Opening Day. Last year, it was the Rangers. on Tuesday, the New York Yankees fell to the Astros 6-2 at Minute Maid Park.

“That’s a tremendous job by that group in there,” Astros manager Bo Porter said after the game. “They came out focused and really came out with a lot of energy and was able to get us a good lead.”

The Astros started the game aggressively against C.C. Sabathia in the batter’s box and against the Yankees defense on the basepaths to jump out to an early lead.

“We knew (Sabathia) threw a lot of strikes early in the count,” right fielder L.J. Hoes said after the game. “He’s kind of a crafty, veteran pitcher so we know we have to kind of put the pressure on him.”

The Astros did just that from the very beginning.

Dexter Fowler got the offense started in the first inning, blasting a leadoff double over Jacoby Ellsbury’s head onto Tal’s Hill in center field. After moving to third base on a Robbie Grossman fly ball, he scored on Jose Altuve’s base hit to left field.

Altuve’s aggressiveness on the basepaths led to three more runs for the Astros in the first inning. He stole second base and advanced to third on a pitch that bounced in front of home plate and then away from catcher Brian McCann. Then he broke for home on a ground ball by Jason Castro to first baseman Mark Teixeira who threw both late and wide to McCann in an effort to prevent the run.

With Castro on first thanks to the fielder’s choice, Jesus Guzman delivered the big blow, a two –run homer off the granite façade to the right of the Crawford Boxes to give the Astros a 4-0 lead in the first inning.

“You don’t feel the ball hit the bat when you hit the ball that good,” Guzman joked after the game.

The Astros kept the pressure on in the second inning, starting with a solo home run by L.J. Hoes down the left field line to push Houston’s lead to 5-0.

One out later, Fowler doubled again, this time legging it out after lining the ball over third baseman Kelly Johnson’s head. Two batters later it was Altuve again, this time with a line drive down the right field line to plate Fowler.

Staked to a 6-0 lead, Scott Feldman baffled Yankees hitters throughout his 6 2/3 innings of work. After hitting Derek Jeter with one out in the first inning, he retired the next nine batters. It wasn’t until Carlos Beltran hit a soft liner to right field with one out in the fourth inning that the Yankees found the hit column.

“The guys came out right from the get-go and put up those runs,” Feldman said. “I was able to settle in a little bit and I just tried to throw strikes.”

The Yankees knocked Feldman out of the game in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases with two outs, but Kevin Chapman came in to induce a slow roller back to the mound for an easy force out to end the threat.

“Chapman came in and got a huge out there to pick us up with the bases loaded,” Porter said.

The Yankees finally got on the board in the eighth inning off Chapman and Chad Qualls for a pair of runs. Chapman walked Ellsbury to start the inning to run Chapman off, then Qualls came in and gave up a single to Derek Jeter. A Beltran grounder to first base moved the runners into scoring position and singles by McCann and Mark Teixeira drove them in. Qualls ended the threat by getting Alfonso Soriano to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.

Matt Albers came in to throw a scoreless ninth inning and send Astros fans home happy for the second consecutive Opening Day win under Porter.

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