For the second straight season under Bo Porter, everything that could have gone right for the Astros did on Opening Day.
The Astros took advantage of some hot bats early in the game and stellar pitching from Scott Feldman to cruise to a 6-2 win Tuesday night at Minute Maid Park.
In fact, the only thing that went haywire on the night happened before the game started, when Nolan Ryan missed Craig Biggio badly on the ceremonial first pitch. It was wide enough to miss behind a non-existent right-handed batter to step in against the Ryan Express.
Everything else the Astros-related on Tuesday night was right-on.
Feldman might have been one of the least heralded Opening Day pitchers in Astros history, but he turned in one of the best performances. The Astros' big free agent acquisition held the Yankees in check throughout the night, going 6 2/3 innings, giving up two hits, two walks and hitting two batters in 101 pitches.
The Yankees didn’t pressure him much; the only baserunner he allowed in the first three innings was Derek Jeter, who he hit in the first inning. The Yankees were hitless until Carlos Beltran singled with one out in the fourth inning.
Beltran was the only batter to get into scoring position until the seventh inning when Feldman tired.
The bullpen-by-committee approach worked in the first game. Kevin Chapman relieved Feldman with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and induced a comebacker from Kelly Johnson to get out of the inning.
Chad Qualls came in after Chapman, walked Jacoby Ellsbury to start the eighth and gave up a single to Derek Jeter to put runners at first and second. After a Carlos Beltran grounder to first put runners at second and third, singles by Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira cut the lead to 6-2.
Qualls then got Alfonso Soriano to hit into a 5-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.
Matt Albers pitched a scoreless ninth inning to close the game out.
The Astros and their bats started the game on fire and it caught the Yankees, especially starter C.C. Sabathia off guard.
Dexter Fowler doubled over Ellsbury’s head in centerfield to start the offense in the first inning. Robbie Grossman moved him over to third base with a sacrifice fly to right field and then Jose Altuve drove him in with a single to left.
Altuve moved to third base when he stole second and kept going to third after Sabathia’s pitch bounced past McCann. Jason Castro got him home with a slow roller to first base.
Castro reached on a fielder’s choice when Teixeria threw too late to get Altuve at home, and he scored when Jesus Guzman drilled a home run to the right of the Crawford Boxes to make it a 4-0 Astros lead in the first inning.
L.J. Hoes added a run in the second with a line drive home run into the Crawford Boxes to leadoff the second inning, and Fowler scored the sixth run when Altuve singled him after his second double of the game.
The Astros pounded out nine hits in the game, including a pair of home runs, and the top of the lineup was particularly effective, going 4-12 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Game 2 of the Yankees series is scheduled for 7:10 on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park. Hiroki Kuroda gets the start for the Yankees against Jarred Cosart for the Astros. Kuroda was 11-13 in 2013 for the Yankees with a 3.31 ERA. Cosart made 10 starts for the Astros in the second half of the year, going 1-1 with a 1.95 ERA. The game will be televised on CSN Houston with coverage starting with Astros Pregame Live at 6:30.