The Astros extended their victory streak in Opening Day wins as an American League entrant to 5-0 on Monday as Dallas Keuchel, who has tossed the last three openers, shut out Seattle over seven innings and got just enough offensive help to celebrate a 3-0 triumph.
Correa: Provides opening power
(c) Associated Press
George Springer opened the home half of the first inning by spanking a home run into the Crawfords on the fourth pitch from King Felix Hernandez for a 1-0 lead. After Keuchel escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fourth, Carlos Correa added to the lead with his own solo shot, a prodigious blast estimated at 449-feet just inside the left field foul pole, for a 2-0 advantage.
Hernandez, who is now 3-6 lifetime against Houston, left after five innings allowing two runs on five hits and six strikeouts. He felt tightness in his groin but stayed in to finish the fifth after trainers inspected him.
Houston got their third run in the sixth off reliever Nick Vincent. After Alex Bregman worked a walk, Jose Altuve singled him over to third and Correa drove him in with a sacrifice fly.
Keuchel lasted seven innings, giving up just two hits and fanning four. Luke Gregerson pitched the eighth and Ken Giles has already had a better month of April than he did last season. The phormer Phillie phastballer worked a walk around three strikeouts to close out the contest and rack up his first save of the campaign.
So down were the Mariners that they brought in Casey Fein to pitch the eighth. Do you remember him? He washed out one year when he was at the Astros spring training camp a few years ago when the club was desperate for players. He had a (ahem) Fein outing, retiring the Astros in order.
To make the night even better, the Rangers also lost meaning the Astros have an early leg up on the two clubs most expected to contend with them in the American League West. The initial four-game series continues Tuesday night at 7:10 Central with veteran Hisashi Iwakuma (16-12 in 2016) pitching for Seattle against Lance McCullers (6-5 in 2016). Collin McHugh is starting the season on the 10-day disabled list and is expected to have one more rehab start in the minors before returning to Houston.
- Bob Hulsey