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The World Series MVP led off the Astros' season opener at Texas with a home run off Rangers left-hander Cole Hamels. The defending champs had a five-game winning streak against Texas after taking the season opener.
Doug Fister gave up a run and scattered four hits in five strong innings, and Joey Gallo and Elvis Andrus each had two hits and an RBI as the Texas Rangers defeated the Houston Astros 5-1 on Friday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, evening the four-game, opening-weekend series at a game apiece. Fister was the first of 166 major league free agents to finalize a big league contract, and first to switch teams, during the offseason.
"I don't take any day for granted by any means", Fister said. Keuchel is 8-8 and carries a 4.02 ERA in his career against the Rangers.
Four relievers held the Astros to one hit over the final four innings, capped by Keone Kela pitching around a walk in the ninth.
Texas expanded that advantage to 3-0 in the fourth when they loaded the bases with no outs and pushed across two runs on back-to-back sacrifice flies from Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor that plated Adrian Beltre and Mazara, respectively. He hit six more homers in the postseason, including five in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Each time Gallo came to the plate, third baseman Alex Bregman moved out to left field, giving the Astros four outfielders while the remaining infielders all shifted to the right side. He also walked and scored in the fourth.
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"Through the course of spring training, I've prepared well for the season", Keuchel said. "Made some adjustments and got through six but it was tough to see just based on how I felt going in and the matchup for me".
Game two of 162 begins tonight, when the Astros send Dallas Keuchel to the hill.
"I caught it, 100 percent", Mazara said.
The Texas bullpen, a primary source of a disappointing season previous year, is off to a strong start. Houston, though, could only muster five hits to the Rangers' 10.
Rangers: Lefty starter Martin Perez (recovering from right elbow surgery) and right-handed reliever Tony Barnette (lower back strain) pitched in an intrasquad game at Triple-A Round Rock on Friday night.
What you can't see on paper, though - the swagger of a team that is defending its franchise's first world championship, the quiet, bubbling vitriol between in-state rivals, in part because of the Rangers' declining to accommodate the Astros in scheduling games previous year post-Harvey - those were all evident, too.