Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
A quick rundown of Thursday's Opening Day Astros game against the Rays:
Final Score: Astros 5, Rays 1
Record: 1-0, second in the AL West.
Winning pitcher: Justin Verlander (1-0).
Losing pitcher: Blake Snell (0-1).
Star of the game: George Springer, after breaking his streak of consecutive season lead-off home runs to start the game, came through in his second at-bat with a huge three-run home run drilled to straight center field to get Houston on the board and give them their first lead. That makes three years in a row with a home run on Opening Day for Springer.
Notes: Verlander looked rattled early, giving up a solo home run to Austin Meadows to start his day then putting the first two batters on base in the second, but rebounded nicely to post a solid start with just one run on three hits over seven innings with nine strikeouts. After struggling the first time through the order against last year's Cy Young winner, the Astros were able to get at Snell and tag him with three home runs; the three-run homer by Springer then solo shots by newcomer Michael Brantley and Jose Altuve. Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna closed things out and looked sharp in their season debuts out of the bullpen.
Up next: The series will continue Friday night with game two of the four-game series at 6:10 PM. We'll get another strong pitching matchup with Gerrit Cole going up against former Astro Charlie Morton.
With a new season on the horizon, the Astros have high hopes for 2024 after coming just one game shy of being in the World Series for three consecutive seasons.
If Houston wants to get back to the Fall Classic in 2024, they're going to have to rely on their pitching. Owner Jim Crane believes the club has 8 starting pitchers when Luis Garcia and Lance McCullers Jr. return mid-season.
Which allows several of the starters to move to the bullpen and provide even more depth. Add those guys to Bryan Abreu, Ryan Pressly, and Josh Hader and you have a recipe for success.
Check out the video above as ESPN Houston's Jeremy Branham goes through the entire staff and makes his case for the Astros having the best pitching staff in baseball.
You can listen to The Killer B's with Jeremy Branham and Joel Blank every weekday on ESPN 97.5 & 92.5 from 3 pm - 6 pm!